Pearl TV, the consortium of television stations advancing NextGen TV, took aim at cable operators during a meeting with FCC Commissioner Nathan Simington.
That’s according to an FCC document on the meeting.
Pearl was launching a petition from the National Association of Broadcasters to clarify the application of the FCC’s ATSC 3.0 (NextGen TV) rules to multicast streams. These are the additional channels that broadcasters have obtained during the digital switchover.
“The procedure is narrow and technical, which clarifies that broadcasters can partner to allow multicast streams to be hosted (as only main streams are handled under the current ATSC 3.0 rules), and that multicast can be transmitted in ATSC 1.0 or ATSC 3.0, with no simulcast requirement,” Pearl TV said. “Comments and responses to comments have arrived, and they show remarkable consensus that the FCC should adopt the fundamental principles of the proposed rule. The Commission should ignore interested comments that clearly do not seek to benefit the public, such as limitations on the number of multicast streams that ATVA and NCTA are asking the Commission to impose or turn this procedure into a re-opening of the retransmission consent debate.”
In November 2021, the FCC tentatively concluded that NextGen TV broadcasters — those whose signals conform to the ATSC 3.0 standard — should be granted some sort of sublicense to allow them to contract with one or more other “host” stations to broadcast their simultaneous multicast. stream, whether in ATSC 3.0 format or the current 1.0 format.
The FCC allows stations to partner on distribution agreements so that broadcasters can continue to provide a primary television station signal stream in ATSC 1.0 since ATSC 3.0 is not backwards compatible with current sets.
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The National Association of Broadcasters, in this petition for declaratory rulemaking, wanted the FCC to declare “that various multi-station arrangements for hosting and originating multicast streams in ATSC 1.0 and 3.0 are OK” .
But cable companies represented by NCTA, the Internet & Television Association, want the FCC to limit the number of multicast streams a station can host for another station.
In addition, the American Television Association (ATVA), which includes cable and satellite operators and others, says the FCC should explicitly ban non-simultaneous multicasting for it to become de facto affiliate exchanges that “either create new local duopolies, automatically increase retransmission consent prices, or both.” Currently, FCC rules do not prevent two top four network-affiliated station signals from being provided by a station owner if it is a multicast charge.”
The ATVA told the FCC that “just as the non-simultaneous multicast regime should [not] become a new tool to evade local media ownership rules in general, it should not become a tool to evade the affiliate exchange rule more specifically.” ■