Cable To Shut Off Analog Channels

Still watching local TV channels through a budget cable connection on an old fashioned analog TV? You won't be for long.

Last night, the FCC voted unanimously to cut off the "viewability" rule which required cable companies to send unscrambled and  down-converted analog versions of local TV channels to customers, reports That requirement  allowed viewers to take a bargain local-only "lifeline" cable service  without paying rent on a  set-top box and while continuing to use a  pre-digital TV. But  cable companies were forced to inefficiently allocate a significant amount  of signal capacity to serve this ever shrinking market.

Eliminating the viewability rule on December 12th will lead to "deployment of faster broadband and the expansion of new and exciting digital services," declared Michael Powell, the former FCC chairman and current president of the National Cable & Telecommunications Association. 

FCC commissioner Mignon Clyburn issued a statement that "cable providers have committed . . . they will make the transition as painless as possible and that if needed, set-top boxes will be widely available at an extremely low (if any) cost, easy to get and easy to install."  The boxes will "downconvert" digital signals, work with old school analog TVs.

Ms. Clyburn also noted that language has been inserted in the ruling which provides "a remedy to resume analog carriage of channels should consumer outcry and confusion rise to a noticeable level."  

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