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CBS Affils Threaten to Abandon Multicasting

Broadcasters might abandon digital multicasting if stations aren’t guaranteed cable carriage, the CBS affiliates group said in its latest appeal to the Federal Communications Commission for expanded digital-TV-carriage rights.

Because HDTV would take the same amount of bandwidth as multicasting, cable operators cannot claim that carriage rights for the multiple channels created by digital technology would push non-broadcast networks off their channel lineups.

Broadcasters "will opt for an all-HDTV strategy, which may be second-best in terms of service to the public and yield little or no additional capacity opportunities for cable programmers," wrote Bob Lee, association president and GM of WDBJ Roanoke, Va., and Ben Tucker, executive VP of Fisher Broadcasting.

The FCC is reviewing whether stations are entitled to demand cable carriage for more than one channel after they switch from analog to digital operation.