National Cable & Telecommunications Association president Kyle McSlarrow took the opportunity of a Senate Commerce Committee hearing on the digital-TV transition to put in a plug for giving small and midsized cable operators an exemption from new cable-TV station-carriage rules.
The Federal Communications Commission in September adopted rules on what constitutes the "viewable" TV station signal cable operators are required to carry, but the agency said it would consider the impact of those carriage requirements on smaller and midsized cable operators.
At the hearing Wednesday, McSlarrow said that while the FCC has agreed to consider smaller waivers, it has a poor record on waiver requests, and that not to give bandwidth-constrained systems an exemption could impede the rollout of rural broadband service. Saying that the FCC has essentially punted the issue, McSlarrow told the committee it could send a message to the commission that it should grant the exemption.
National Association of Broadcasters president David Rehr took issue with the exemption, saying that the waiver process was sufficient.
Earlier in the day, FCC chairman Kevin Martin told another committee that the carriage requirement wouldn't be a bandwidth problem and that the FCC was just making sure viewers didn't lose channels they were already seeing.