ACA Asks FCC for Retrans ‘Quiet Period’

American Cable Association files formal request with Federal Communications Commission for retransmission-consent 'quiet period' around Feb. 17, 2009, digital-transition date.

The American Cable Association filed a formal request with the Federal Communications Commission for a retransmission-consent "quiet period" around the Feb. 17, 2009, digital-transition date.

That came in the form of a letter to FCC chairman Kevin Martin expressing the ACA's support of a petition filed by ACA members Mediacom Communications and GCI Cable in April asking the FCC to call the retrans time out, saying that it was concerned that there could be confusion if stalled retrans negotiations led to stations withdrawing in the months before or after the transition.

"The retransmission-consent cycle and the end of analog-broadcast signals creates a substantial risk of consumer confusion, frustration and harm," the ACA wrote. "All of this would occur at a critical point when the commission, the cable industry and many other industry and government participants are working to minimize the disruption for consumers."

The ACA said thousands of retrans agreements expire in December 2008, adding that a quiet period starting at the beginning of 2009 and extending to May 31 is "reasonable and appropriate."

FCC rules already prevent broadcast signals from being moved or dropped during sweeps periods, the ACA pointed out.

"If the commission can justify a recurring retransmission status quo during sweeps periods," it added, "the commission can surely apply a short, one-time-only quiet period to ensure a smooth digital transition."