The American Cable Association (ACA), a representative of 1,100 small and mid-sized cable operators nationwide, confirmed last Friday that the FCC had waived its rules to exempt small cable systems from carrying the signals of certain digital television (DTV) broadcast stations in both digital and analog format for three years following the DTV transition next February. Although the text of the FCC’s order has yet to be released, ACA and FCC officials said that the waiver would benefit cable systems, other than those owned by Comcast or Time Warner, that have fewer than 2,500 subscribers or that have less than 552 MHz of channel capacity regardless of the number of subscribers. (Sources indicate that the order was to be approved at the FCC open meeting scheduled for August 22 but was pulled from the agenda after being approved on circulation.) Scheduled to go into effect on February 18, 2009, the waiver would permit eligible small cable systems for the next three years to carry exclusively in analog format any DTV broadcast station that exercises its right to mandatory carriage. Responding to complaints that DTV must-carry rules adopted previously by the FCC would prove to be financially burdensome to small cable operators, the order caps a year of effort by the ACA and by members of the FCC and Congress to relieve small cable systems from certain DTV mandates. Declaring “this reasonable exemption will benefit thousands of small communities and millions of consumers served by ACA’s members,” ACA President Matthew Polka thanked FCC Chairman Kevin Martin and his colleagues for “granting needed relief for thousands of cable system operators who had neither the extra bandwidth nor the budget to comply with the digital must-carry obligation.”