Cable Seeks Protections In ATSC 3.0 Rollout

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.

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.

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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.


Comments (44)

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Julien Devereux says:

May 27, 2016 at 10:50 am

Hi. We’re Cable. We want everything our way, and all your money, too.

    Veronica Serrano Padilla says:

    May 27, 2016 at 12:03 pm

    Sounds a bit like some broadcasters and their Retrans demands…

    Wagner Pereira says:

    May 27, 2016 at 2:25 pm

    Of course the cable only @RidgelineCable takes Cable’s position. Without the local Cable System, he has nothing.

    Veronica Serrano Padilla says:

    May 27, 2016 at 2:55 pm

    The same can be said for broadcast… without cable, broadcasters have (almost) nothing… you, yourself have pointed out that OTA is at about 10%. Not much of a business case for reaching 10% of the population…

    Ellen Samrock says:

    May 27, 2016 at 6:24 pm

    OTA households are now at 21%.

    Veronica Serrano Padilla says:

    May 27, 2016 at 6:36 pm

    I doubt that, but post your source and we may change our minds. Even then, at 20% reach a station would find it difficult to survive – as evidenced by your former LPTV station, where you complained that you couldn’t sell ads on the 1950s cartoon and TV show programming.

    Ellen Samrock says:

    May 27, 2016 at 8:04 pm

    That information is on the web, you look it up. Of course, you’re free to choose whatever spin you want if it makes you feel better about cable TV losing subscribers–not that it would make much difference with your garbage little cable channel and its five viewers.

    Wagner Pereira says:

    May 27, 2016 at 8:35 pm

    For umpteenth time, OTA is 11.8%. TVB listed is very distinctly. It would benefit their cause if it were 21%, but they will not publish BS numbers to further their cause.

    Ellen Samrock says:

    May 28, 2016 at 3:32 pm

    For umpteenth time, 21% of US HH use OTA TV as a secondary source, 19.3% have it as their primary source for television.
    http://www.nab.org/documents/newsroom/pressRelease.asp?id=3168
    https://www.dvb.org/news/ota-tv-viewers-the-least-aware-about-analogue-switch-off

    Veronica Serrano Padilla says:

    May 28, 2016 at 4:57 pm

    I might have 5 viewers, maybe 50, maybe 500 or 5 thousand… it really doesn’t matter. What does matter is that I have been reasonably successful at MONETIZING the channel. You know, as in playing the bills, putting food on the table. I can do that because I air a reasonable amount of LOCAL PROGRAMMING and sell LOCAL ADVERTISEMENTS, not just 1950s cartoons and worn out public domain TV shows. How about YOUR former LPTV channel?? Right, no real income, you had to sell it…

    Ellen Samrock says:

    May 28, 2016 at 6:01 pm

    With 11 hours of PD shows and Bible thumping I’m sure your little cable channel is doing nothing. But, hey, the cost of living down where you are can’t be much and you can always shoot a possum for dinner. My station always made money and now with new HD equipment and a couple affiliations the station is doing even better. Thanks for your concern.

    Wagner Pereira says:

    May 28, 2016 at 6:39 pm

    Wow. A pre-2009 Analog Cutoff Article and a story from 2013 is your source? Try something more recent – like TVB info from Feb 2016. Now DOWN TO 11.6% OTA. http://www.tvb.org/Public/Research/CompetitiveMedia/CableADS/NationalADS,Wired-CableOver-The-AirPenetrationTrends.aspx AGAIN, TVB would love to use a 21% figure if it were true – it makes their case even better! However,they will not publish BS numbers.

    Ellen Samrock says:

    May 28, 2016 at 7:49 pm

    Because these percentages vary greatly, the next question is by what method are they arrived at? Even with the TVB numbers it clearly shows a steady gain for OTA HH since 2012 while wired cable shows a consistent decline. The 2013 reference I cited shows 19.3% OTA HH. If the TVB numbers are to be believed then that figure should be even higher this year since OTA HH are trending upward not downward.

    Wagner Pereira says:

    May 29, 2016 at 3:44 am

    Again, TVB has everything to gain with higher numbers and everything to lose with lower numbers. The fact they have detailed research with 11.6% and that number is WORSE for them than 21% would be, they are very believable -as they have NOTHING TO GAIN for showing 11.6% OTA – as that works against their goal of keeping Ad buys off Cable Channels.

Amneris Vargas says:

May 27, 2016 at 2:04 pm

We (cable/broadcasting) have a symbiotic relationship, especially with 3.0. Cable needs broadcast programming (as it is the most watched programming by far), while broadcasting needs broadband connectivity. 3.0 is a hybrid broadcast/broadband system.

    Veronica Serrano Padilla says:

    May 27, 2016 at 3:00 pm

    It would be refreshing if cable and broadcast both would take such a moderate approach as you do – neither can survive effectively without the other.

    Amneris Vargas says:

    May 27, 2016 at 4:59 pm

    There are more moderates out there, like you, than not. Just doesn’t make a splashy headline.

    Kathy Hostetter says:

    May 27, 2016 at 5:51 pm

    Indeed and as I understand it 3.0 uses and advanced encoding format (hevc) that would free up spectrum for the MSO to deliver more lucrative broadband services. So I am missing why the push back.

    Veronica Serrano Padilla says:

    May 27, 2016 at 7:27 pm

    Cable doesn’t want to waste another channel by putting broadcasters on in duplicate (or triplicate in some cases) in ATSC 3.0. They’re already required to have a broadcast stations on in analog if they still offer an analog tier (and many small cablers do) and also to have a duplicate channel of the broadcast station on in digital HD. This requirement came about during broadcast’s digital transition several years ago. If they are required to put on an ATSC 3.0 version, that’s less bandwidth to use for broadband services and other channels subscribers want. Let’s remember, while some here may hate the cable industry, they need to remember that cable is a business. They’re not here to give a helping hand to the broadcast industry out of charity but to run a successful operation.

    Wagner Pereira says:

    May 27, 2016 at 8:41 pm

    As @Ridgeline buys cable access from Windstream in Blairsville, GA, broadcasting daily on cable only from Noon – 11PM (11 hours a day!), he is really clueless to Broadcasters and for that fact, what Cable Systems are thinking. If a cable system does not want to air ATSC 3.0 channels, no issue. They only will hurt themselves with potential customers. The reality is RIDGELINETV is scared if cable broadcasts ATSC 3.0 they will need the QAM bandwidth from his cable channel and he will be off the air for good.

    Veronica Serrano Padilla says:

    May 27, 2016 at 9:49 pm

    You get the clueless award today. I am not scared on any such thing, in fact your suggestion are childish and silly. First, cable systems are required to set aside a certain number of Leased Access channels on their systems. Leased Access is controlled by the FCC and won’t be going away any time soon. Perhaps you should educate yourself about cable requirements instead of continually sticking your foot in your mouth (like that hilarious 40 acres and a mule thing!!)) Second, I worked in the cable industry for well over a dozen years and keep up with the industry, unlike yourself. Third, the questions is will the FCC require cable systems to accommodate broadcasters if they decide to broadcast in Ultra HD, which is possible with ATSC 3.0? Doubtful in my opinion – at least immediately – but it is early. Down the line, as UHD becomes more prevalent, cable companies will want to provide that experience, which they did with HD – which I’ll point out was long before broadcasters were even capable of doing HD. As for providing the other bells and whistles provided by ATSC 3.0, remember that cable only is legally required to air a broadcast channel’s primary programming stream. (Obviously, some sub channels are included either because cable deems the programming a plus for their customers or are required per Retransmission Agreements.) Generally, cable isn’t even “broadcasting” (your word, not mine) ATSC 1.0 on their systems. They are largely taking program streams and distributing those through QAM. (True, there are examples where ATSC 1.0 is passed through with no processing, for example Windstream Cable does so at a small system in mid Georgia, mostly because of the small system size.) And why isn’t cable just passing through broadcast signals? Because with QAM, cable can get twice the data rate (and more with higher QAM rates) than broadcast. Why waste an entire channel (what cable calle EIA channels – 6Mhz) when TWO broadcast channels can fit with no processing? By the way, do you think you’re intimidating me by posting information about my channel?? If I wanted to be anonymous like you, I wouldn’t use my REAL company name and REAL channel name to post with. Guess I just don’t have as much cowardice as you.

    Wagner Pereira says:

    May 28, 2016 at 6:57 pm

    Blah Blah Blah. More of the same BS. Yes, cable can lease channels. No one ever said they cannot. However, the FCC does not set the fee. The MVPD decides that and can make it cost ineffective. Of course in you area, no one really cares. Your comment that Cable Companies provided HD prior to ATSC 1.0? Really? WRAL Broadcast HD via ATSC in 1996. Many Stations were on with ATSC 1.0 in 1999 – and HBO only signed on their HBO HD Channel on 3/6/1999 – though it was only available via satellite – not cable – as there were no HD STBs at that time. There are Broadcasters and Carnival Barkers. You fall into the Carnival Barker category.

    Veronica Serrano Padilla says:

    May 29, 2016 at 1:31 pm

    Do you ever get tired of being wrong?? The FCC DOES set the maximum rate for Leased Access and always has. You’re wrong again but no doubt you won’t admit it But here’s something I will do: you are correct about broadcast having HD first… see if you weren’t an anonymous coward you’d be able to admit when you’re wrong…

    Veronica Serrano Padilla says:

    May 29, 2016 at 1:56 pm

    By the way, funny how @Roger Thornhill and @Insider resort to personal insults when they can’t actually have an intelligent conversation. (Although Roger – AKA Danny Boy’s – comment about eating ‘possum was somewhat humorous…)

    Wagner Pereira says:

    May 29, 2016 at 2:01 pm

    The only thing humorous is that you are a local cablecaster on a small system in the outer fringes of a TV DMA where moonshining is the major industry and think you are a Broadcaster.

    Wagner Pereira says:

    May 29, 2016 at 2:17 pm

    I’ll be the first to admit I do not know all the detailed cable rules for leased access as it doesn’t concern real Broadcasters. I do not troll the cable sites as you and the ACA troll the Broadcasters sites. Happy?

    Veronica Serrano Padilla says:

    May 29, 2016 at 4:48 pm

    I’ve never suggested that I am a “broadcaster.” Unlike yourself, I’ve always been honest about who I am by using my REAL company name and REAL channel name to post with. Anyone with half a brain can Google “Ridgeline TV” and find out who I am and what I do. No one can say the same for cowardly anonymous posters like yourself… who knows, perhaps you really are a broadcaster or maybe just a janitor at one of the networks… we’ll never know.

    Veronica Serrano Padilla says:

    May 29, 2016 at 5:01 pm

    I’ve never suggested I’m a “broadcaster” and have always been honest about who I am and what I do. That’s why I choose to post under my REAL company and REAL channel name. Anyone with half a brain can Google “Ridgeline TV” and see this (in fact, several readers of this forum HAVE contacted me by email.) The same can’t be said for yourself, a cowardly anonymous poster who posts snarky comments from the shadows. Who knows if you’re really a broadcaster – maybe you’re only the janitor for one of the networks?? It’s OK if you are, you have the right to post here regardless. And by the way, this is me LMAO at your moonshining joke!! Pretty old stereotype of Appalachia. Are you also one of those who joke about African Americans eating watermelons and fried chickens?? Bet you’ve got one of those little jockeys in your yard, too. No, moonshining is not the major industry here… fairly vibrant tourist and second-home market. Oh, but I almost forgot, we do have a small legal moonshine operation that’s about to start here: get your Grandaddy Mims… good stuff!!

    Ellen Samrock says:

    May 29, 2016 at 5:16 pm

    You started the personal attacks, Jon.

    Veronica Serrano Padilla says:

    May 29, 2016 at 5:23 pm

    @Insider: No, you certainly don’t know the rules for leases access but jumped in anyways. Isn’t that what you chide other about with your snarky comments? Sure is. As a member of the television industry I enjoy discussing industry-related issues. That includes keeping up with, learning about and discussing broadcast issues. Most reasonable people see broadcasting and cable (satellite, IPTV, too) as very intertwined businesses; topics and issues from one almost always effect the others. No trolling here. If you have an issue with non “broadcast” people posting here, perhaps you can contact the editor Mr Jessell. Maybe he’ll change the requirements for posting to “broadcasters” only… of course he may require commenters to register under their real names, something I would certainly welcome.

    Wagner Pereira says:

    May 29, 2016 at 11:15 pm

    @RidgelineTV – Let’s be very clear. You have a leased cable system in Blairsville GA – a town in the US 2010 Census had a population of 652 – what is that, perhaps 250 Households? Most people posting on Youtube or Instagram have more viewers than you. If one enters Blairsville Georgia to Google, Google suggests “Blairsville Cabins” as a top search item. According to multiple websites – including your own – the big events in Blairsville is the Sorghum Festival and the Tractor Show. You can talk about “stereotypes” – I am going by your website, wikipedia and the Union County Website. Again, you are nothing more than a Carney who thinks he is a Broadcaster, hawking your wares to any Preacher who wants to spend money to be on local TV.

    Veronica Serrano Padilla says:

    May 30, 2016 at 10:59 am

    Wrong as usual. The channel is available in three counties and four towns with a potential of 20,000 viewers in two states. Yes, it is a very small channel, and yes it is a somewhat challenging market. But I didn’t start the channel to get rich. I consider myself semi-retired and do this because I love it here and it’s what I want to do. Apparently many others love it here – Union County is one of the fastest growing counties for retirees and second homes. With the beautiful mountains, great trout fishing, hiking, area recreational lakes and laid-back, small town attitude, who can blame them? And again, I’ve never claimed to be a “broadcaster,” just a guy who is interested in all aspects of the television industry.

    Wagner Pereira says:

    May 30, 2016 at 8:19 pm

    Wow….20,000 POTENTIAL viewers. Of course, the 4 cities you have listed on your website total just over 2,000 population in the 2010 Census – so no chance you aren’t exaggerating! And of course you love it there. NorthEast Georgia was where the movie Deliverance was based on and filmed – and we know what the locals do!

    Veronica Serrano Padilla says:

    May 30, 2016 at 9:08 pm

    You don’t reckon there are actually people who live outside the city limits in the three counties, do you?? Man, you are on a stupid role. Feel free to educate yourself before you continue with more stupidity… (it’s clear to see who the REAL carnival barker is…)

    Veronica Serrano Padilla says:

    May 30, 2016 at 9:24 pm

    ## roll ##

    Wagner Pereira says:

    May 30, 2016 at 11:21 pm

    Considering the County Populations, seems you are the one dreaming.

Wagner Pereira says:

May 27, 2016 at 8:58 pm

@Solomon Yes ATSC 3.0 can use HVEC .h265. However, that does not mean that MVPDs must use that to distribute the programming on their system. In fact, virtually all Channels on Cable are distributed in MPEG4 .h264 currently, but outside of Satellite, Cable Systems convert it to MPEG2 on their system. Comcast has recently begun shifting to MPEG4/.h264 while .h265 is now rolling out. So even if ATSC 3.0 uses HVEC/.h265, it does not mean that a MVPD will distribute it on their system in that format. Which shows the real problem – Cable Systems are far behind the times in technology.

    Wagner Pereira says:

    May 27, 2016 at 9:01 pm

    HEVC – fat fingers.

    Veronica Serrano Padilla says:

    May 27, 2016 at 9:53 pm

    Hilarious… cable is “behind the times” because of the use of MPEG2??? You do realize that ALL broadcast stations are using MPEG2 compression and will for a good while?? Silly anonymous Insider…

    Wagner Pereira says:

    May 28, 2016 at 6:59 pm

    Broadcast will be using HEVC next year. When will Cable start using HEVC? In fact, when all cable start using the older .h264 compression, much less newer HEVC?

    Veronica Serrano Padilla says:

    May 29, 2016 at 2:02 pm

    Broadcast will still be using MPEG2 on their “lifeline”-designated station(s) until there’s enough market penetration of ATSC 3.0-cabpable sets on the market – and that could take several years. Otherwise, who would see their content? There’s always the chance that a sizable number of broadcast stations won’t even participate in multi-casting ATSC 1.0 and 3.0 and will keep on with business as usual. Several networks and large station groups seem uninterested in ATSC 3.0 according to the trades…

    Wagner Pereira says:

    May 30, 2016 at 8:25 pm

    Who will see ATSC 3.0 stations if not on a “lifeline’ station? The 88.4% of the US Households that are on a MVPD. Of course, since your leased cable channel isn’t even in HD, nothing for you to worry about! But then again, with the big events in the area being the Sorghum Festival and the Tractor Show, we see how cutting edge your area is.

    Veronica Serrano Padilla says:

    May 30, 2016 at 9:20 pm

    Ahh… so you actually admit that broadcasting isn’t viable without MVPDs. Or maybe it’s just others who have such a hard time admitting such. Anyways, one has to wonder why broadcasters (at least top networks) would really want “lifeline” stations at all – why not go ahead and switch to ATSC 3.0 immediately? That would push the remaining 10 – 15% of OTA viewers over to MVPDs – putting that much more Retrans money in local affiliates and network’s pockets.

Warren Harmon says:

May 28, 2016 at 4:16 pm

There is a lot of hoopla here on the ATSC 3.0 capabilities however cable can still distribute in forms other than the native OTA’s native 8VSB stream. What is the issue, if cable re distributes in a lower definition form so be it. Why requite OTA’s to accommodate cable? Seems like cable would have their own choice of stepping up their standards or lose clients to OTA for higher definition. After all, cable still provides analog in many locations. Educate me if I am wrong that it is all about “Market Value” of cable.


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