NCTA: Nix multichannel bid

The National Cable Television Assn. is urging the Federal Communications Commission to nix broadcast industry attempts to become “multichannel providers” during the transition to high-definition TV.

The NCTA’s plea came in response to efforts by the National Assn. of Broadcasters to persuade the FCC to allow broadcasters to take advantage of the coming digital compression boom by programming more than just one channel.

Broadcasters are hoping the commission will issue favorable rules allowing them “flexible use of the spectrum” to offset the high costs of converting to HDTV transmission.

NAB envisions a future where broadcasters can became multi-channel providers to transmit high-speed data such as stock quotes. But NCTA told the FCC broadcasters should only be permitted to use channels “directly related to HDTV.”

Business concerns of broadcasters “are not relevant,” said NCTA. “If individual broadcasters are not interested in investing in that future–or are unable to do so financially–the commission should make the HDTV opportunity available to others who may be better positioned or more willing to risk an investment in the future,” argued the cable org.

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