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Broadcasters Look to FCC for DTV-Carriage Help

The National Association of Broadcasters and its spectrum-watchdog counterpart, the Association for Maximum Service Television, weighed in on the Federal Communications Commission's cable digital-TV-carriage order, essentially supporting all of the things the cable industry opposed in its own filing at the FCC.

Broadcasters told the FCC that it: 1) should not grant small cable operators a blanket exemption from the requirement that cable carry TV stations in analog and digital; 2) should not allow cable to decide how an HD signal should be converted to analog -- letterbox or trimming the edges; 3) extend channel-positioning requirements to DTV signals; and 4) that the rule prohibiting "material degradation" of the broadcast signal covers retransmission-consent, as well as must-carry stations.

On who should control the aspect ratio of HD signals converted to analog, the groups said: "A rule putting broadcasters and viewers in control of the format of downconverted programming is necessary to give full effect to Congress’ goal of preventing cable operators from disadvantaging broadcasters in cable carriage."