The FCC has exempted small cable operators from having to provide a digital signal. The FCC defines a small cable company that has under 2,500 subscribers and is not affiliated with the big cable boys. The little guys have until February 17, 2012 to make the transition.
According to this article which states:
The American Cable Association immediately hailed the decision. ACA President and CEO Matthew M. Polka called the exemption “a reprieve to thousands of cable system operators who had neither the extra bandwidth nor the budget to comply with the digital must-carry obligation.” The big broadcasting trade associations lobbied against the proposal.
The Communications Act says that the FCC must adopt material degradation rules that make sure that “to the extent technically feasible, the quality of signal processing and carriage provided by a cable system for the carriage of local commercial television stations will be no less than that provided by the system for carriage for any other type of signal.” But the FCC argued that because SD and reconverted analog use the same resolution: 480i, “there should be no perceivable difference between the two versions of the signal.”
I for one was actually relieved in reading the news that this was for small cable operators only. In the back of my mind I thought the FCC would extend the digital requirement once again for all carriers. Some of us have waited a long time for digital. :-)