Washington, D.C. — The Association of Public Television Stations (APTS), National Cable & Telecommunications Association (NCTA) and the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) recently approved a digital cable carriage agreement that will allow U.S. cable customers to receive digital television broadcasts (including high-definition and multicast channels) from local public television stations.
With approval from all three organizations, the practice must now be ratified within 60 days by public television stations and cable multiple system operators (MSOs) across the country, representing some 80 percent of television and cable households.
MSOs would begin carrying public television stations pursuant to the agreement within 180 days of its ratification.
The Public Television Digital Cable Carriage Agreement ensures that local public television stations' digital programming will be carried on cable systems serving most of the nation's cable subscribers for the foreseeable future.
Terms of the agreement include the following:
- During the period when public television stations are broadcasting both in analog and digital formats, upgraded cable systems that offer high-definition television (HDTV) will carry up to four streams of free non-commercial digital broadcast programming and associated material from at least one public television station in a market, if a station chooses to distribute that many streams, in addition to the station's analog signal.
- After all TV stations in a market are transmitting only digital signals, upgraded cable systems that offer HDTV will carry free non-commercial digital programming of each local must-carry public television station. This may include four streams of free non-commercial digital programming and associated material, subject to reasonable programming duplication parameters.
- Any public television station that decides to shut off analog transmission and broadcast in digital-only before the DTV market transition may choose to have its digital signals carried on the upgraded local cable system at that time.
The Public Television Digital Cable Carriage Agreement does not supersede existing pre-transitional digital carriage agreements among public television stations and cable systems. The existing agreements would remain in effect until they expire.