Cablers fire salvo in ongoing digital war

Lobbying continues with FCC

WASHINGTON — Cablers on Thursday once again urged the Federal Communications Commission to let the marketplace solve the troubled transition to digital TV instead of ordering them to help broadcasters by carrying extra signals.

For months, broadcasters have been lobbying Washington to intervene and force cablers to carry both a broadcaster’s analog and digital signal, at least until digital TV is up and running. So far, the FCC has said cablers don’t have to fork over additional spectrum.

But the lobbying goes on, with public broadcasters being the latest to go to bat on the issue.

In the filing logged Thursday with the FCC, the National Cable & Telecommunications Assn. said broadcasters have failed to prove that the transition to TV has been delayed because of the dual carriage issue. Moreover, cablers already are striking private dual-carriage agreements with some broadcasters.

Any government intervention would force cablers to scrap other programming.

“The business plans of operators, programmers and other service providers — and, ultimately, the needs, interests and demands of consumers — will be thwarted, whether the effect of dual must-carry is to force operators to drop existing services or to curtail the development and offering of exciting new services that can only be offered over upgraded, high-capacity systems,” the NCTA said.

The National Assn. of Broadcasters, however, has argued that cablers are crying wolf when they say they don’t have enough capacity to carry additional broadcast signals.

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