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FCC: Analog Carriage Optional

Broadcasters took a hit on the must-carry front last week with the FCC’s decision to sunset the rule that operators of hybrid digital/analog systems deliver must-carry stations in both formats.

The FCC adopted the rule in 2007 to ensure that must-carry stations would still be viewable on the analog portion of cable systems after the transition to digital. The commission made it a threeyear requirement that would sunset June 12, 2012, unless renewed.

Partly in the interest of freeing up more capacity for broadband—the FCC’s mantra and mission—the commission decided instead that cable operators can fulfill the statutory requirement that must-carry stations be available via cable through no- or low-cost converter boxes.

Broadcasters had lobbied hard to keep the requirement, arguing that millions of viewers and the must-carry stations, including ones delivering diverse and religious programming, would be adversely affected.