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NCTA Opposed to Dual Carriage

The cable industry  took issue yet again with FCC Chairman Kevin Martin's proposal to require cable systems to deliver both analog and digital versions of TV station signals after the transition to digital.

That came after the FCC scheduled the proposal for consideration at its next public meeting April 25.

"Instead of reaching premature conclusions that force expensive new costs on consumers," said Brian Dietz, VP of Communications for the National Cable & Telecommunications Association (NCTA). "The FCC should approach the transition in a collaborative way that will not unfairly tax millions of Americans.”

That came as the NCTA was pointing out that it has always planned to deliver broadcast signals "to all customers" after the transition. But its point was that there was no call for a government mandate. "Cable operators already carry hundreds of local broadcast high definition signals as a result of marketplace agreements and not government mandates," Dietz said. "The FCC’s current proposal appears to mandate an unnecessary and unconstitutional carriage requirement that has already been overwhelmingly rejected twice by the FCC."

Cable operators are under no explicit obligation to carry both analog and digital signals after the conversion to digital, but Martin apparently sees at least an implicit one in a law requiring cable operators to deliver a "viewable" signal to subscribers.