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Network Affils Ask FCC for Carriage

The heads of the "Big Three" network-affiliate bodies have asked the Federal Communications Commission to get with it and grant multicasting must-carry rights to broadcasters.

"The Commission must rule now that cable systems may not invade broadcasters' digital signals and strip out multicast program services," wrote Deb McDermott (ABC), Roger Ogden (NBC) and Bob Lee (CBS) to the five commissioners.
Broadcasters want the FCC to require cable operators to carry their full digital signal, whether that is one channel or many.

The affiliate group heads sent along a copy of an article on multicasting from the Columbia Journalism Review, which "points out that the major obstacle to the public's receiving the benefit of these services is cable's refusal to carry them based on its bottleneck power and competitive incentives."

National Cable & Telecommunications Association spokesman Brian Dietz responded: "As the article accurately points out, cable already carries more than 300 multicast channels nationwide as the result of business negotiations between stations and local cable operators.

"Cable operators have consistently said they would carry the primary digital signal of all local broadcast stations and will be willing to add other digital stations if they provide compelling content that consumers are interested in. Broadcasters have continuously failed to prove their case of why the government should grant them nearly unlimited spectrum on the cable lineup."