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ACA, APTS Strike Digital-Multicast Deal

The American Cable Association finalized a deal with the Association of Public Television Stations and PBS for carriage of digital multicast channels after the February 2009 transition to full-power digital TV.

The Federal Communications Commission helped to pave the way for ratification of the deal with its decision to grant small cable operators like the ones the ACA represents with a waiver from its "viewability" requirement that cable operators carry HD signals in the same bandwidth-hungry HD format.

Under the 10-year deal, ACA members will carry the primary digital signals of noncommercial stations on the basic tier and promise to carry all multicast channels on the same tier.

The APTS and PBS struck a digital carriage deal with DirecTV last December, although that one did not include carriage of multicast channels.

The APTS, PBS and the National Cable & Telecommunications Association, which represents larger operators, struck a multicast carriage deal with the noncoms in 2005.