Rick Merrill <rick0.merrill@NOSPAM.gmail.com> wrote:
> The over air stations that cable TV carries as part of "Basic
> Service" also broadcast HDTV signals (unencrypted) that should
> according to the FCC regs be carried as part of "Basic Service"
> in-the-clear by Comcast. U agree or not?
> - RM
I assume that:
- By "HDTV" you mean either 1080i or 720p.
- By "in the clear" you mean that the CATV company delivers to each
subscriber an exact digital replica of the HTDV digital stream that
it receives from the station's transmitter.
- You are referring to the primary-channel DTV stream (not a
subchannel) of a "local commercial television station" (as defined
in 47 CFR 76.55(c)) which also transmits a simultaneous analog
Under these assumptions:
- Current FCC regulations applicable to mandatory carriage ("must-
carry") do not require a CATV to carry the HDTV stream, even
if said regulations require carriage of the analog signal.
- Carriage of the HDTV stream pursuant to a retransmission-
consent agreement between the station licensee and a CATV
is subject to the terms of the agreement, not FCC regulation.
Given the history of the FCC's experience with must-carry, I can
understand its reticence. Historically, every must-carry rule that
the FCC has promulgated on its own motion (without specific
Congressional authority) has been swatted down by the courts.
The FCC's current must-carry rules were authorized by Congress, but
even then, they just barely survived court challenge. The case went
all the way to the Supreme Court, which upheld them in a fractured 5-4
That URL points to 76.55 ("Definitions applicable to the must-carry
rules"), not to the actual rules. The actual rules are at 76.56
("Signal carriage obligations"). http://tinyurl.com/3asq85
> "Congress is monitoring the changes in the television
> and broadcast industry closely. In addition to watching
> the potential for debate surrounding FCC's must-carry
> rule, several representatives are hoping that broadcasters
> convert quickly, so they can auction off the spectrum now
> used for analog broadcasts. ..."
> - http://www.todaysengineer.org/2003/Feb/HDTV.asp
Congress is indeed "monitoring" the situation, but they don't seem to
be doing much about signal carriage rules.
Effective February 17, 2009, all full-power broadcast stations must
cease analog broadcasts and convert to digital exclusively. Under
current law, CATV companies will then be required to carry only the
primary-channel digital stream, but they will not be required to carry
The FCC is considering imposing mandatory carriage for all subchannels
("multicasting"), but it hasn't taken formal action.