NCTA tells the FCC that any new rules should not require cable systems to carry 3.0 signals during the transition from the current DTV system to 3.0. The trade group also says systems should not be burdened with new carriage obligations or costs and the host station should be required to broadcast in HD.
Cable Seeks Protections In ATSC 3.0 Rollout
Broadcasters should be allowed to transition to the ATSC 3.0 broadcasting system, but not at the expense of the cable operators that retransmit their signals to most TV homes, the National Cable & Telecommunications Associations told the FCC.
The FCC must insure that “introduction of a new, voluntary broadcast transmission standard does not harm cable operators or their customers,” NCTA said.
Broadcasters led by the NAB last month asked the FCC to write rules authorizing them to implement the so-called Next Generation TV on a voluntary basis.
In the petition, broadcasters proposed a market-based approach to the transition from the current DTV standard to the 3.0 standard.
Each station that opts for 3.0 would simulcast in DTV on a designated “host” station in the market so consumers and cable system receiving DTV signals could continue to do so.
Commenting on the petition, NCTA said any new rules should not require cable systems to carry 3.0 signals during the transition from the current DTV system to 3.0. NCTA also said systems should not be burdened with new carriage obligations or costs and the host station should be required to broadcast in HD.
In addition, NCTA said, the broadcasters should not be allowed to unilaterally decide when they can discontinue the DTV broadcasts. “Instead, the commission should conduct further proceedings at a later date to determine how and when broadcasters can cease providing an ATSC 1.0 signal to over-the-air viewers and to cable systems.”
Finally, the NCTA said, the FCC should not permit broadcasters to reopen retransmission consent agreements 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.”
Cable operators that have entered into agreements for the retransmission of an ATSC 1.0 signal when transmitted by one broadcaster should be deemed to have consent to continue that retransmission when that signal is moved to a different host transmitter.
“By the same token, if a cable operator has negotiated a retransmission consent agreement to carry a station’s ATSC 1.0 signal, that same agreement should be deemed to provide authority for the operator, at the operator’s election, to retransmit an ATSC 3.0 signal freely available over-the-air.”
NCTA wasn’t the only cable group to comment. According to the American Cable Association, the FCC should “proceed cautiously before allowing broadcasters to replace their over-the-air signals with signals in a new, unfinished, and untested format.” ACA argued that the FCC should issue a Notice of Inquiry regarding this issue before considering specific rules.
The group said an NOI would fully examine the costs that a transition to the new format would entail for small cable systems and their customers-as well as the legal and constitutional issues associated with such a transition. “The transition to ATSC 3.0 is a project that principally benefits broadcasters. The FCC should not allow broadcasters to outsource the costs of this project to small cable operators,” ACA President-CEO Matthew M. Polka said.
In addition to the NAB, several major stations groups expressed strong support for 3.0 and urged the agency to move forward quickly with a rulemaking.
The groups included Raycom Media, Graham Media, Tegna, Sinclair, Cox Media, Meredith and Gray Television.