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'Quiet Period' Noise

12:35 PM -- Cable's lobbying groups are being somewhat outspoken about a "quiet period" proposal from the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) that, the organization claims, will help to smooth out the bumps before and after the February 2009 digital TV transition.

The NAB said its board and members have committed not to pull their video signals from Feb. 4, 2009 through March 4, 2009. As proposed, this "voluntary" quiet period for retransmission consent negotiations would fall a full two weeks prior to and after the Feb. 17 transition date. (See NAB Outlines 'Quiet Period'.)

Although cable's lobbying groups say they appreciate the step, it's still not good enough in the eyes of the American Cable Association (ACA) and the National Cable & Telecommunications Association (NCTA) .

The NAB's proposal "is simply too late and will not go far enough to protect consumers, whose signals could be pulled by broadcasters before Feb. 4," said ACA president and CEO Matthew Polka. The ACA is urging the FCC to adopt a six-month quiet period that runs from Jan. 1 through May 31, 2009. (See ACA Wants Longer Retrans 'Quiet Period'.)

NCTA president and CEO Kyle McSlarrow concurred, noting that many outstanding retransmission consent agreements expire before the end of 2008. "Any voluntary quiet period that does not begin before the agreements actually expire -- or which is too brief to preclude potentially confusing messages about broadcast carriage during the time of the actual DTV transition -- represents the illusion of a commitment and does not serve the consumer," he said. (See NCTA Fires Back at NAB.)

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has yet to act on the retrans quiet period issue.

— Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Cable Digital News

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