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ALTV Seeks A La Carte Rule Change

A broadcasting organization is disputing new federal rules that allow
direct-broadcast satellite carriers to provide local TV signals on an a la carte
basis.

The Association of Local Television Stations (ALTV) filed a petition with the
Federal Communications Commission Feb. 21 asking the agency to force DBS
carriers to require subscribers to buy all available local signals in a single
package.

If local TV stations are not sold in package, ALTV said, DBS carriers could
engage in 'packaging and/or pricing manipulation' that would make some local TV
stations 'unattractive to satellite customers.'

Although ALTV asked the FCC to reconsider its policies, the National
Association of Broadcasters took the FCC to federal court Feb. 1 over the same
issue.

Cable operators are required to offer all local TV stations on the basic tier
-- a package subscribers must purchase before or at the same time when they buy
higher tiers or premium networks.

But the FCC ruled in November that the Satellite Home Viewer Improvement Act
of 1999 -- which authorized DBS carriers to provide local TV signals -- did not
require DBS carriers to sell all local TV signals in one
package.