[mythtv-users] FCC Broadcast Digital Channel Requirements

Chase Douglas chasedouglas.lists at gmail.com
Fri Aug 22 19:41:06 UTC 2008

On Aug 22, 2008, at 2:31 PM, David Schlenk wrote:

> On Fri, Aug 22, 2008 at 1:22 PM, Chase Douglas <chasedouglas.lists at gmail.com 
> > wrote:
> On Aug 22, 2008, at 2:16 PM, Phil Bridges wrote:
> > On Fri, Aug 22, 2008 at 2:06 PM, Chase Douglas
> > <chasedouglas.lists at gmail.com> wrote:
> >> Hello all,
> >>
> >> It was my understanding that the FCC requires cable companies to
> >> transmit, unencrypted, all local broadcast channels over their  
> cable
> >> network. For instance, I have the Time Warner Basic Cable package  
> in
> >> Columbus, OH that gives me access to most of the analog channels.
> >> Although I have not ordered any digital package, I have also been
> >> able
> >> to receive the digital versions of the local ABC, CBS, FOX, NBC,  
> PBS,
> >> and The CW channels. I just realized today that I can no longer
> >> receive FOX or ABC. Interestingly, they both are subchannels of the
> >> same ATSC channel. I called up the Time Warner Cable support line,
> >> and
> >> I was told that because I do not have any digital package I should
> >> not
> >> be receiving any digital channels.
> >>
> >> First, am I correct in my assumption that the FCC requires cable
> >> companies to transmit local broadcast channels in all  
> circumstances,
> >> analog and digital? Second, if that's true, does anyone know of  
> where
> >> I can find the FCC regulations stipulating this in case I have to
> >> lodge a formal complaint?
> >>
> >
> > Are you sure they haven't just remapped the channels?  Comcast is  
> bad
> > about doing that in my neck of the woods.
> I am fairly certain as I have had my TV rescan for digital channels
> and I no longer receive FOX and ABC while I do still receive all the
> other channels. In fact, I think this all began because they realized
> they weren't encrypting Universal HD. I no longer receive that channel
> unencrypted, but that's fine with me as I'm not paying for it.
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> IANAL but I think they only have to transmit it in the clear if you  
> subscribe to that service. So since you aren't paying for a digital  
> plan, just an analog one, they are required to transmit the local  
> analog channels that you pay for in the clear, but have no  
> responsibility to provide you with the digital ones since you are  
> not paying for them. For example, I used to have Comcast's poor  
> man's plan - $10 but you get $15 off your internet if you have it  
> (so a net of $5 savings). It had local channels and like WGN or  
> something. The trap on the line for that package blocks the high  
> channels where their HD local channels live, but if I wanted to get  
> those I could pay an extra $7 a month to get those. And then they'd  
> have to be in the clear.

 From what I have read online, though I can't find any specific  
regulation (which may be because there is no such regulation), the FCC  
only mandates that one version of a broadcast channel is transmitted  
in the clear. The analog version counts, so they don't have to  
transmit the digital channel.

Secondly, the station may opt for retransmission consent instead of  
must-carry. I am not positive if this impacts channel encryption, but  
I have learned that the FOX/ABC affiliate here (they are the same  
company...) have their digital channels through retransmission consent  
instead of must-carry.

All of this may change significantly in november once the analog  
cutoff occurs, but I'm not holding up any hope of receiving HD  
broadcast of ABC and FOX through my pcHDTV anymore...
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