American Cable Association argues for HD exemption from FCC

The Federal Communications Commission is still mulling the extension of the DTV transition mandate that cable TV operators must deliver must-carry TV stations in high-definition if that is how they are broadcast over-the-air. Along with that decision, the FCC will have to decide whether or not small cable TV operators will still be granted exemptions to the mandate.

The American Cable Association is urging the FCC to continue the exemption as is, and reinforced its argument during testimony to the FCC late last week. It is looking to help smaller operators avoid the increased costs of supporting HD. The National Association of Broadcasters, however, wants to see the exemption redefined somewhat so that it would not apply if the cable TV operator in question delivers any other channels in HD.

If small operators did not have to deliver must-carry stations in HD, but could still deliver cable TV channels in HD, that would amount to favoritism, the NAB has argued.

The matter offers a dose of reality that in the age of competition between cable TV giants that offer more than 100 HD channels, there are still service providers that can't afford to even participate in the HD era. If the NAB has its way, they will not even get to dip their toe in the waters of HD, though in the long-term, that would seem to ensure that those operators will never offer the must-carry stations in HD either.

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