Small Cable Wins Break from Some DTV Rules

The official order isn't out yet from the regulator, but it appears the Federal Communications Commission approved an item that gives small, capacity-strained cable operators a break on certain rules tied to the digital TV transition.

Specifically, the order would exempt cable systems with 552 MHz or less capacity and systems with 2,500 subscribers or fewer - except for those owned by operators that serve more than 10 percent of TV households - from the agency's material degradation prohibition, said those with knowledge of the FCC effort.

This exemption came after more than a year of work at the FCC and in Congress by small cable interests to win an exemption for the smallest systems from certain digital TV mandates.

Said Matt Polka of the American Cable Association, "This reasonable exemption will benefit thousands of small communities and millions of consumers served by ACA's members." He added, "ACA appreciates the commission's action to recognize the unique circumstances of smaller, independent operators and the technological limitations of some cable systems."