Does the encoding (ASCII, UTF-8, etc.) of an htaccess file matter?
Mine is UTF-8, purely because that's what I have Notepad++ set to (having learned the hard way). But I stumbled upon a brief comment in an article which stated
Remember to upload .htaccess files, and .htpasswd files using ASCII mode.
If file is Utf8-without-BOM, and if you do not use characters with diacritical marks "glāžšķūņrūķīši" then file can be utf8. Transfer in binary vs ASCII mode deals with line feed differences in operating systems.