According to the agenda for that public meeting, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is set to vote on a proposed rule regarding mandatory cable carriage of digital broadcast TV signals following the 2009 transition.
A report by Multichannel News suggests that the scheduling of the vote implies that FCC chairman Kevin Martin has the votes necessary to impose a dual-carriage mandate on cable operators.
The FCC has already proposed that cable operators either carry the signals of all must-carry stations in analog format to all analog cable subs (dual must-carry); or carry all signals only in digital format, provided that all subs have set-tops.
The National Cable & Telecommunications Association (NCTA) has already termed the all-digital option as a non-starter, and called the second "no option at all," because it would force operators to supply digital boxes for about 126 million analog TV sets at a cost of roughly $6.3 billion. (See Cable's All-Upset Over All-Digital.)
The American Cable Association (ACA) , meanwhile, reiterated its position this week that the proposed rule making would obligate most cable operators to offer must-carry channels in three formats -- high-definition, standard-definition, and analog -- and the associated costs would hamstring smaller cable systems. (See ACA Blasts FCC .)
Cable isn't the only industry grousing about the specter of a dual must-carry mandate. In a filing last week, EchoStar Satellite LLC warned of a potential capacity crunch if dual must-carry is imposed.
— Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Cable Digital News