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NCTA Joins ACA in Calling for Dual-Carriage Exemption

The National Cable & Telecommunications Association seconded the American Cable Association's call for an exemption from new digital-TV-carriage rules for cable systems with fewer than 5,000 subscribers.

The NCTA said that those systems should be allowed to carry must-carry stations in analog.

In comments to the Federal Communications Commission, the NCTA said cable operators should be able to place DTV signals after the Feb. 17, 2009, transition date on any channel they choose, rather than extending analog-channel-positioning rights to DTV channels.

The NCTA also argued that cable operators must be allowed to decide how to present an analog version of an HD signal, not have it dictated by the government.

Operators can either letterbox the image with bars above and below or fill the screen but lose the edges.

The FCC adopted the cable DTV "dual-carriage" requirement -- or "viewability" requirement, depending on whom you ask -- last fall, but it also put out comments on how that requirement should be implemented.

The NCTA added that the rule requiring cable to deliver a broadcast signal with "no material degradation" should to must-carry stations only. "Retransmission-consent stations already negotiate for the terms and conditions of their carriage," the trade group said in comments to the FCC, "and they should not be permitted to avail themselves of these protections designed for stations that purportedly cannot fend for themselves in the marketplace."