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Long Live Analog

Just keeping tabs on the National Association of Broadcasters confab in Sin City from afar…

As expected, much of the discussion at the show appears to be centering on the February 2009 digital TV transition, it being a once-in-a-lifetime event and all.

Interesting tidbit tied to some ABC Inc. broadcasting outlets. According to Broadcasting & Cable, owned and operated ABC stations will continue to deliver an analog, standard-definition video signal after February 19, 2008. But only analog cable subs will benefit from these "wireline" analog feeds.

Short of going all-digital (and providing all subs with the necessary gear -– set-tops -- to make digital signals viewable), most cable operators are on the hook to deliver "must carry" stations in analog and digital format following the transition. Smaller operators with activated capacity of 552 MHz or less are on the cusp of getting a break from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) , however. (See FCC OKs Dual TV Carriage Rules and Martin: Give Small Ops a Break.)

According to B&C, the 10 O&O stations that apply to ABC's plans cover about 24 percent of the country and include outlets in New York; Los Angeles; Philadelphia; San Francisco; Chicago; Houston; Raleigh-Durham, N.C.; Fresno, Calif.; Flint, Mich.; and Toledo, Ohio.

Elsewhere at NAB, Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK) and broadcaster Raycom Media reportedly will co-promote a "Lifeline" analog package from the MSO that will sell for between $10 and $14 per month and offer local over-the-air stations and public and government stations.

Although cable stands to reclaim valuable spectrum through analog reclamation, being one of the few analog video options still available following the transition could give some MSOs an opportunity to gain new subs from a pool of consumers who have not yet subscribed to cable or any other pay TV service, for that matter. (See DTV Transition’s ‘Major Glitch’.)

— Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Cable Digital News

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