Today, the FCC released its decision on "Viewability." By a 5-0 vote, the Commission agreed to eliminate the Viewability Rule, effective in 6 months (December 12, 2012). After that date, consumers with analog-only cable service may be required to lease and install additional equipment to receive certain broadcast stations. Despite its prior decision that putting such a burden on consumers did not meet the "Viewability" standard as passed by Congress, the Commission stated that it was within its rights to change its interpretation of an "ambiguous" statute.
The Order states that the transition time will allow cable operators to (1) acquire an adequate supply of equipment, and (2) to provide adequate notice to broadcasters and customers of any changes in carriage and service and any new equipment that might be necessary. The Order suggests that cost for equipment should not exceed $2.00 per month and the Order "relies" on the cable operators to follow through on a commitment to provide a 90-day notice to broadcasters before undertaking carriage changes.
This decision is a disappointment to the Independent Voices for Local TV Coalition, which continues to be concerned about the real-world impact of the decision on consumers, independent broadcast stations and programming diversity.