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Cable Paying the DTV Piper

U.S. cable operators and programmers have run educational spots highlighting the February 2009 digital TV transition valued at nearly $94 million, the National Cable & Telecommunications Association (NCTA) disclosed in report to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) filed Thursday.

That's as of April 30, and represents nearly half of $200 million the industry has earmarked for an 18-month DTV consumer education campaign, marked by several spots in English and Spanish, that got off the ground last September. (See NCTA Vids Spotlight DTV Transition.) Operators, the NCTA added, indicate they "will likely exceed their individual commitments as the transition gets closer."

The key campaign message, of course, is that cable customers don’t have much, if anything, to fuss over so long as their TVs are connected to a cable outlet. That message, some analysts believe, could give cable a healthy subscriber boost late this year and into early 2009. (See DTV Transition Could Catalyze Cable.) Here's one PSA sample:



Short of going "all-digital" and providing the necessary equipment (i.e. set-tops) to all subscribers, most operators are mandated to deliver the analog and digital feeds of broadcasters that elect "must-carry" status. (See FCC OKs Dual TV Carriage Rules.) Operators that are strapped for bandwidth are in line to receive some relief under a proposal from FCC Chairman Kevin Martin, though the cable industry is pulling for a broader "blanket waiver" for systems with fewer than 5,000 subscribers. (See Martin Proposes HD Relief Plan and Small Cable Lobby Asks for DTV Exemption .)

In addition to video spots, cable operators, per FCC order, are also issuing monthly notices in customer bills through March 2009. Aside from that, the NCTA said cable has also undertaken other educational initiatives, including "how-to" guides on Websites, via video on demand, local programming, and local events.

— Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Cable Digital News




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