ACA lists 4 demands from small cable operators for ATSC 3.0

The ACA said its members typically spend more than larger MVPDs to provide service on a per-subscriber basis.

The American Cable Association continued to press the FCC as the agency evaluates ATSC 3.0, releasing a list of four demands Tuesday that small cable operators have for the new broadcast standard. 

"ACA members spend more than larger MVPDs to provide service on a per-subscriber basis. And they have fewer resources to bring to bear than larger MVPDs,” said American Cable Association President and CEO Matthew Polk, in a statement. “For them, the transition to ATSC 3.0 presents particular challenges, and, in some cases, requires particularized solutions.”

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Here’s what the ACA is asking for:

  1. ACA wants the FCC to require that TV stations conduct separate negotiations for carriage of ATSC 1.0 and ATSC 3.0 signals.

    “This is the simplest way to prevent a broadcaster from conditioning carriage of ATSC 1.0 signals on initial carriage of ATSC 3.0 signals,” ACA said in its statement. "The FCC also should prohibit broadcasters from enforcing clauses requiring ATSC 3.0 carriage in retransmission consent agreements entered into prior to any Order in this proceeding."
  2. The lobbying group wants to require that ATSC 1.0 simulcasts be in the same format and with the same picture quality as current transmissions. 

    “Broadcasters will face incentives to provide ATSC 1.0 simulcasts in lower format or with worse picture quality than they provide today—and they may deliberately do so to "encourage" MVPDs to carry ATSC 3.0 signals,” ACA said. “Picture quality is a particular concern for small MVPDs, who are more likely to rely on off-air delivery than larger MVPDs, and have less means to obtain ATSC 1.0 signals in non-degraded format via "alternate means," such as fiber or DBS transport.”
  3. ACA wants the FCC to address issues related to over-the-air coverage of ATSC 1.0 simulcasts. 

    “Under the broadcasters' proposal, stations may choose to transmit ATSC 1.0 simulcasts from other stations' facilities,” ACA said. “Simulcasts from other facilities may not reach MVPD headends, harming those who rely on off-air delivery. This particularly harms small MVPDs—and especially rural small MVPDs, who are more likely to lose service and can least afford to obtain delivery through alternate means.”
  4. ACA wants broadcasters to reimburse small MVPDs for the cost of sending and receiving ATSC 1.0 simulcasts. 

    “Those costs are especially problematic for small MVPDs. They relate to a video business that is increasingly unprofitable for small MVPDs,” ACA said. “And they preclude investments in broadband—a service critical to small MVPD long-term survival (and which increasingly subsidizes small MVPD video service).”