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Martin Circulates Leased Must-Carry Proposal

FCC Chairman Kevin Martin Tuesday night distributed to the other commissioners a proposal to give DTV multicast channels leased to minorities and small businesses by TV broadcasters the same must-carry rights as those stations get.

According to Rudy Brioche, adviser to Democratic Commissioner Jonathan Adelstein, the rule would allow a broadcaster to lease a multicast stream to a designated entry, with the "punch line" being that right to mandatory carriage.

The proposal would essentially create a new class of station by proxy, with the same privileges, most notably carriage, and the same public interest responsibilities.

Martin vetted the idea with representatives of the media--minority and otherwise-- as a way to further diversify media voices. The cable industry is not supportive of giving over more bandwidth to government-mandated carriage.

Brioche says that it may diversify programming, but does not address the issue of ownership diversity, since the designated entries would be leasing, not owning, their "stations."