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NAB: No a la Carte for TV Stations

Local broadcast stations are legally exempt from being offered a la carte, the National Association of Broadcasters said Friday.

A la carte carriage is precluded for commercial and public TV stations because the 1992 Cable Act mandated cable distribution of those signals to every subscriber, the trade group said.

The NAB added that the a la carte ban applied whether TV stations elected mandatory or negotiated cable carriage.

“If local stations were provided on [an] a la carte basis, some cable subscribers would no doubt decline to take some local stations, resulting in a loss of access to local information and a potential loss of diversity for those households,” the NAB said. “The interests supporting must-carry thus are in conflict with provision of local broadcast stations on an a la carte basis.”

The NAB filed comments Friday in connection with the Federal Communications Commission’s a la carte study for Congress due Nov. 18.

The trade group -- which represents hundreds of affiliates of ABC, NBC, CBS and Fox -- urged the commission to ensure that its report did not recommend changing current carriage-law requirements.

The NAB said it would not take a position on whether providing cable and satellite programming a la carte would advance the public interest.

FCC rules allow direct-broadcast satellite carriers to offer local TV stations a la carte in some circumstances. The NAB fought those rules, but a panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit backed the agency's decision.