NAB Calls for DTV Meeting


The National Association of Broadcasters has proposed a meeting with the National Cable & Telecommunications Association as soon as possible to resolve their differences over digital TV.

The public offering of an olive branch of sorts was a smart political move. The suggestion for such a meeting came last week from Rep. Billy Tauzin (R-La.).

Broadcasting and cable's main policy difference is that the NAB wants the FCC to require cable systems to carry all of a broadcast station's digital channel, which would mean ancillary services and not just the digital version of their primary analog signal, which is their baseline digital requirement by law.

Cable balks at being forced to give up more channel space--they are already required to carry the analog signal of any broadcaster that requests it--arguing that digital multicast must-carry could force off some niche cable networks and would give them even less control over their own service.

"I would like to propose a meeting as early as possible between key broadcast and cable industry leaders," wrote NAB President Eddie Fritts to NCTA President Robert Sachs. "Our goal should be simple: to set aside past policy differences, while doing what's best for the viewing public," which NAB argues is multicast must-carry.

"I want to emphasize the broadcast industry goal of completing this transition as quickly as possible and returning analog spectrum," Fritts continued. "We believe that transitional carriage of all broadcast stations on cable can expedite the transition."