NAB to FCC: Don't Extend HD Carriage Waiver

The National Association of Broadcasters has told the FCC it should deny a request by smaller cable operators for an extension of their exemption from having to carry TV station signals in HD.

"ACA has failed to meet its burden of justifying its requested blanket waiver, and the two other cable industry commenters have not supplied the legal and factual bases missing from ACA's petition and comments," said NAB in reply comments. "If, despite its highly dubious legal foundation, the Commission nonetheless extends the HD exemption in some form, we urge the FCC to more appropriately define the systems eligible for the exemption and require systems to establish their eligibility for it."

The FCC last month proposed granting the American Cable Association's request for three-year extension of smaller cable operators' exemption from having to carry TV stations in high definition under the no "material degradation" mandate. The exemption was to have expired June 12, 2015.

In 2008, the FCC exempted smaller operators from the FCC requirement that cable operators deliver TV station signals in HD if they are delivered in HD over the air. In 2012, at the behest of ACA, the FCC extended that exemption for three more years.

Exempt are systems with 552 MHz or less channel capacity, or with fewer than 2,500 or fewer subs and aren't affiliated with a cable operator serving more than 10% of all MVPD subs.

NAB had wanted the FCC to restrict the exemption by "eliminating its application to systems that carry any signal in HD."

But the commissioner said in proposing granting the waiver that "the exemption had already been crafted narrowly to excuse only a limited number of systems with certain capacity constraints or low subscribership, and that a small system's ability to offer some HD service did not necessarily render that system capable of offering additional HD service."

John Eggerton

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.