Cable companies are applauding a Federal Communications Commission vote to end a requirement that cable stations continue to provide analog feeds of certain broadcasts.
The FCC voted late Monday to allow its "viewability " rule to expire in December. That rule requires cable companies to ensure customers that haven't purchased digital converter boxes still have access to certain broadcast TV signals.
Local TV stations switched to digital signals three years ago. The cable rules would have expired this week without the FCC vote, but the commission made it clear it sees the rules as quickly becoming unnecessary.
"We find the viewability rule is no longer necessary to ensure must-carry signals are viewable to all subscribers and therefore will allow the rule to sunset," the FCC said in its order, which was unanimously approved.
National Cable and Telecommunications Association CEO Michael Powell called the order a "forward-looking, pro-consumer" step toward new innovation. Cable companies, he said, will continue to help people who haven't yet converted to digital.
Broadcasters, most of which were required to switch to digital signals three years ago, say dropping the requirement could hurt smaller TV stations.