Martin Proposes Dual Station Carriage


The FCC has released its agenda for the April 25 meeting and it includes a proposal that would essentially require cable to deliver broadcast must-carry stations in both analog and digital after the February 2009 transition to digital broadcasting.

Cable currently only has to carry the digital signal after the transition, but that could mean analog cable customers might not get the signal.

The agenda item (#3  for those keeping count) reads as follows: The Commission will consider a Second Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking concerning issues related to mandatory cable carriage of digital broadcast television signals after the conclusion of the digital television (“DTV”) transition.

According to an FCC source, the notice asks whether the FCC should require dual analog and DTV cable carriage to make sure TV station signals get to cable customers who still have analog equipment or, alternatively, require digital carriage only but make cable operators responsible for insuring their analog customers without cable boxes get the converters necessary to view the digital signal.

Martin told B&C in January that not allowing cable to "degrade" the DTV signal was a key to the digital transition , and he talked of  "meeting the Communications Act’s basic requirements that the digital signal be viewable by all TV watchers, and that it not be materially degraded by a cable or satellite provider."

Also on the agenda are updated on DTV channel allocations as well as its periodic review of DTV transition rules. Stations are looking for a little regulatory clarity on some thorny issues related to DTV coverage areas.