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The Federal Communications Commission initiated a proceeding to examine what measures it should take concerning broadcasters that fail to meet their digital TV construction deadlines.

Commercial broadcasters were required to construct their digital facilities by May 1, but some missed the deadline. The DTV issue has become a political hot potato in Washington, D.C.

In its notice of proposed rulemaking, the FCC affirmed its commitment to the "rapid build out of a nationwide DTV system," and added that it wanted to prevent more delays in the transition to DTV. The agency will begin to take comments on the proposal shortly.

Tentative proposals from the FCC suggests there should be sanctions placed on stations every six months if they fail to construct their digital facilities on time. Sanctions would begin with admonishment, followed by issuance of notices of apparent liability for forfeiture, and culminating in forfeiture of the licensee's DTV authorization.

Commissioners said it was time to move the DTV effort forward. "We need cooperation and commitment from all parts of the industry, but broadcasters are a pivotal piece to that equation," said Commissioner Kathleen Abernathy. "Thus, I feel strongly that broadcasters must comply with the established transition schedule and we must strictly enforce our rules."

In another move at the Portals, the FCC expanded the availability for licenses in the Cable Television Relay Service (CARS) band to all multichannel program distributors.

Through the order, private cable operators, DBS companies, open video systems and others that provide multiple channels of video programming can join cable and wireless systems in using the microwave frequencies to support their video distribution. The FCC positioned the move as enhancing competition to incumbent cable operators.

Franchised cable systems and other services use the 12 GHz and 18 GHz CARS bands for microwave relays of video programming. CARS stations relay signals and supply program material to cable systems using point-to-point and point-to-multipoint transmissions. Consumers aren't part of the CARS mix, and don't get signals directly through the band, but some programming delivered to the home may have used the microwave network for part of its path to the home.

From SkyReport (Used with Permission)
 

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What they ought to do is extend the requirement that satellite delivered channels must be made available for sale to any multichannel video provider, and add a provision that would require microwave distributed channels to be made available in the same manner.

This would solve the "Comcast SportsNet" problem where a cable company uses microwave technology to distribute a channel and then refuses to sell it to the DBS operators.
 
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