NCTA again is trying to get cable relief on copyright fees and distant signals, filing 2 petitions at the US Copyright Office Wed. The 1st deals with computing how much money copyright owners should receive when ops carry distant broadcast signals. Only the Big 3-ABC, CBS and NBC-are classified as network stations. Fox, UPN, WB and Pax are dubbed independents, meaning they each cost 4 times as much to import to distant markets as the Big 3. NCTA argues FOX, UPN, WB and Pax meet the definitions of network signals. The 2nd petition deals with so-called "phantom signals," something NCTA raised back in ’83. Phantom signals occur when cable ops consolidate headends, a common occurrence. The number of headends has dropped from 11.6K in ’94 to 8.9K today. Here’s the situation: One headend may have previously served 2K subs and imported a distant signal to those customers. That headend may serve 20K subs today, but only the original 2K are authorized to receive the distant signal. The problem is the operator must pay for the entire 20K to receive the signal. NCTA proposes rates be based only on the number of subs who receive the signal.

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