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LPTV Group Seeks Must-Carry

Multicast must-carry has been grabbing the headlines, but one TV-station group is just looking for plain old digital must-carry.

That's because it is a group of low-power stations, most of which are Class A, which the FCC treats, in terms of interference protections and filing requirements at least, as their full-power cousins. But they don't get must-carry status.

Una Vez Mas, which owns Spanish-language LPTV's in 19 markets, was writing Commerce Committee Senators Wednesday asking them to support an proposed amendment to a Senate telecom reform bill that would grant must-carry status to class A low powers:

"Our audience is being denied access to programming that is both entertaining and informative because we do not have 'must carry' rights. Small broadcasters serving important community needs should not be denied equal access to cable and satellite distribution."

Una Vez Mas played the consolidation card, saying that the community needed "access to an independent voice that is not controlled by a major media company."

Group President Robert Hyland says that "if you are licensed to a market and an over-the-air broadcaster, you should have the same must-carry rights."

By having to pay to get on cable systems, he says, the stations have less money to do news or other local programming.

Hyland concedes the amendment has little chance, but says that, eventually, larger broadcasters will start buying LPTV's as a way to build coverage while staying under the FCC's ownership cap, which doesn't apply to LPTVs. It is in their interests to back granting class A's must-carry status, he says.