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House Democrats Differ with Martin on Multicast Must-Carry

Almost one-dozen House Democrats wrote Federal Communications Commission chairman Kevin Martin to take issue with his statement at an Oct. 17 Hill hearing that imposing digital-multicast must-carry obligations on cable was "the most important thing we can do" for the digital-TV transition.

Saying that they were "dismayed" by the statement and "strongly disagreed" with it, they also said adding that carriage requirement would lead to "confusion, uncertainty and the potential for litigation."

The 11 legislators -- which included Anna Eshoo of California, Jay Inslee of Washington and Albert Wynn of Maryland -- said the FCC should not try to adopt a policy it has twice rejected, particularly given that it has already established "rules of the road" for cable digital carriage in a recent decision on cable's carriage of a viewable TV-station signal after the transition.

Instead, they said, the FCC should focus on coordinating with the National Telecommunications & Information Administration, which is overseeing the DTV converter-box-subsidy program, to make sure viewers are educated about the DTV transition in February 2009.