Cable industry urges FCC to go slow on ATSC 3.0 rollout

Cable lobbying groups the NCTA and ACA have both petitioned the FCC, asking the agency not to burden cable systems with the new ATSC 3.0 technology standard being adopted by the broadcast industry. 

In its filing to the FCC, the National Cable Telecommunications Association urged the agency to make sure the "introduction of a new, voluntary broadcast transmission standard does not harm cable operators or their customers."

Added the American Cable Association: "Depending on how ATSC 3.0 is implemented, the transition could have a dramatic effect on small cable operators, requiring significant new capital outlays and reducing capacity on cable systems that could have been used for other programming or for broadband Internet capacity."

The ATSC 3.0 standard is currently being tested in Washington, Baltimore and Cleveland. It's designed to bring TV broadcasters into the IP world, potentially allowing them to transmit video to smartphones, or new ads to billboards, or emergency alerts to homes, cars and other devices.

The NCTA has asked the FCC not to adopt new rules requiring cable systems to carry ATSC 3.0 signals during the transition from the current DTV standard.

The NCTA also said the agency should manage loopholes that might let broadcasters re-open broadcast retransmission licensing negotiations during the transition.

"It would be manifestly unfair to allow broadcasters to expand their retransmission consent rights by moving signals around from station to station," the NCTA said.

For its part, the ACA suspects that broadcasters might try to pass on the cost of the ATSC 3.0 transition to MVPD customers through higher retrans cost.

"The dysfunctional retransmission consent marketplace gives broadcasters significant leverage in negotiations with small cable operators —leverage amplified by legacy rules governing the market," ACA said in a statement. "This means that, if the costs of this transition are allocated solely by 'the market,' as broadcasters suggest, it is inevitable that these burdens will fall disproportionately on small cable operators. But these are the very businesses that would be least able to absorb these costs."

For more:
- read this TV News Check story
- read this Broadcasting & Cable story

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