Skip to main content

ACA Warns Against Forcing ATSC 3.0 Transition Via Retrans

The American Cable Association has fired a warning shot across broadcasters' bow, warning that they will file a petition for reconsideration of the ATSC 3.0 framework order if broadcasters use it to force carriage of those new next-gen signals.

ACA and other cable operators had wanted the FCC to prevent broadcasters from being about to condition carriage of their current 1.0 signals to carriage of the new, 3.0 signals, but the FCC declined to do so.

According to an ex parte letter to the FCC, ACA notes that Commissioner Michael O'Rielly's statement on the ATSC 3.0 vote suggested that if broadcasters attempted to make the transition involuntary by tying it to retrans could violate the FCC's requirement of good faith negotiations.

O'Rielly said he would be watching for concrete examples of that and ACA said it would be, too, as retrans renewals come due at the end of the year.

Related: FCC Launches Next-Gen Broadcast TV Standard

"Should broadcasters insist on ATSC 3.0 carriage in their negotiations with ACA members, the 'concrete examples' of which Commissioner O’Rielly spoke may become available sooner rather than later," ACA said, adding: "If we learn of such examples, we will not hesitate to present these facts to the Commission in a Petition for Reconsideration of the Order filed under section 1.429 of the Commission’s rules."

ACA has 30 days after the ATSC 3.0 order, which was voted at the Nov. 16 meeting, is published in the Federal Register, which should be anytime now.

The association points out that hundreds of its members will be negotiating thousands of agreements over the several weeks.

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.