FCC backs DBS local must-carry

The FCC Wednesday upheld rules requiring satellite TV carriers to offer every local channel in a market or none at all.

Both the satellite carriers and broadcasters had asked the agency to reconsider portions of the rules, issued Nov. 2000, but the FCC made only minor revisions. The requirements were intended to put direct broadcast satellite providers under similar "must-carry" requirements as cable operators.

DirecTV asked the FCC to toughen its "good quality signal" standard, which requires local broadcasters to provide similar quality over-the-air transmission as they provide cable operators. "DirecTV did not provide sufficient evidence to demonstrate that the current signal quality standard is inadequate," the FCC said.

The commission also dismissed broadcasters' demand that satellite carriers be allowed to offer a local market's stations only as a entire package and eliminate the station-by-station "a la carte" options permitted today. "This flexible approach . . .promotes consumer choice in programming," the commission said.