Interfacing Cable Television And Broadcast Subscription Television (1978)

By Early D. Monroe, Jr., Federal Communications Commission

One of the primary technical advantages with coaxial cable television for telecommunication purposes is the cable system's technical compatibility with most of the newly developed communication systems in addition to existing communication systems now being given renewed priority consideration as a result of the public demand for premium subscription programs.

Cable television systems may be confronted with some technical compatibility problems if required to car~J both the Broadcast Subscription Television (BSTV) station's premium and "free" programs. While there may not be a channel capacity problem in offering more than one type of premium program, there are compatibility problems involving the delivery of BSTV and cable premium programs over the same cable system.

By Public Notice dated November 15, 1977, the Commission identified seven (7) BSTV systems which had received "advance system approval." These systems are not compatible. Moreover, there are applications presently pending before the Commission for a waiver of "the one BSTV station to a community" rule. If this rule is waived, this would further complicate the compatibility/ interfacing problem between cable and BSTV. Cable systems may choose to carry other over-the-air premium signals with little or no technical interfacing problems. This is evident from system carriage of: HBO's programs via satellite, and Multipoint Distribution Service (MDS) signals. This paper will only focus on premium BSTV program carriage on cable systems.

BSTV premium carriage on cable systems presents varying degrees of technical problems for all cable systems since all the BSTV systems involve encoding both the video and audio. This paper will address some of the technical, compatibility problems between various types of cable systems and specific hypothetical encoding and decoding techniques which could be proposed by BSTV stations, how interfacing can be accomplished, circumstances under which piracy can occur, and what can be done to minimize piracy.

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