PITTSBURGH, April 29, 2015 - The American Cable Association has urged the Federal Communications Commission to give the smallest cable systems an additional three-year exemption from a requirement to distribute local TV stations in the high-definition format and to affirm that analog-only cable systems are not subject to the requirement at all.
systems continue to experience financial strain or are hindered by a lack of
excess channel capacity, or both. Forcing these systems to launch HD signals
exacerbates these financial and capacity constraints and makes system
shut-downs more likely, potentially removing a multichannel video programming distributor
(MVPD) competitor from small, rural markets," ACA President and CEO Matthew M.
The HD exemption, which the FCC adopted in 2008 and extended in 2012, applies to cable systems with 2,500 or fewer subscribers with no ownership links in cable companies with more than 10 million subscribers or those with 552 MHz or less capacity. Unless extended, the exemption is set to expire on June 12, 2015.
HD exemption permits operators of small cable systems that receive the signals
of broadcast stations in HD to down-convert them to either standard definition
or analog for distribution to their subscribers. In response to ACA's Petition showing continued
need, the FCC tentatively concluded that the HD exemption should be extended
for an additional three years.
ACA urged the FCC to adopt its tentative conclusion and grant the requested relief in a pair of comments filed within the past two weeks -- ahead of the June sunset for the current HD exemption. In its filings, ACA urged the FCC to:
On reply, ACA noted that the record unanimously supports FCC confirmation that analog-only systems are exempt from the HD carriage requirement because it is technically infeasible for them to do so without requiring them to incur the substantial investments needed to upgrade their systems. Loss of the HD exemption at this time would cause many small systems to either make untimely expenditures for costly equipment, drop other programming, or shut down, depriving customers in smaller towns and rural areas to lose an affordable, locally-based MVPD.
ACA argued that legal and policy objections to extension of the exemption lodged by the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB), including proposals to limit the amount and types of systems eligible for the exemption, lack merit and should be rejected. ACA demonstrated that the FCC has broad authority over cable carriage of broadcast signals, particularly during the DTV transition, and the HD carriage exemption fits comfortably within this statutory authority.About the American Cable Association: Based in Pittsburgh, the American Cable Association is a trade organization representing nearly 850 smaller and medium-sized, independent cable companies who provide broadband services for nearly 7 million cable subscribers primarily located in rural and smaller suburban markets across America. Through active participation in the regulatory and legislative process in Washington, D.C., ACA's members work together to advance the interests of their customers and ensure the future competitiveness and viability of their business. For more information, visit http://www.americancable.org/
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