Fine Dandy

Is cable the next front on the analog TV wind-down wars? While the media industry breathed a collective sigh when regulators pushed off the analog TV shutoff, another TV shutdown saga is heating up. The cable industry has slowly but surely moved analog TV channels to digital. And far from smoothly.

The FCC issued 31 Notices of Apparent Liability for Forfeiture to most cable operators including Comcast, Time Warner Cable and many others. Operators are supposed to issue customers a 30-day written notice before a channel move. Apparently they’re not doing it. And regulators are not amused. Most fines were in the $7,500 range, but some were far higher. More than 200 million analog TVs will not work on new digital tiers without a new digital set-top. And unlike broadcast DTV converters, there’s no government subsidy. The feds are not happy that cable operators are not lowering analog prices as they cut back on channels analog customers can get — essentially giving customers less for their money — so this fight could get ugly indeed.

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