PBS, APTS Push FCC on Dish Network HD Carriage

Noncommercial broadcasters were complaining to the Federal Communications Commission Monday that Dish Network has still not struck a carriage deal for their HD signals.

As the FCC prepares to vote on satellite operators' carriage requirements in the switch to digital broadcasting, PBS and the Association for Public Television Stations wanted to make sure it was paying attention to the HD signals of noncommercial stations.

FCC chairman Kevin Martin has said that after Feb. 17, 2009, satellite operators should be required to carry all local stations' digital signals, as well. That could create capacity-constraint issues in some cases, so the FCC would look at waivers on a case-by-case basis.

In a letter to the commission, the APTS and PBS pointed to the carriage deals it struck with DirecTV and cable-operator associations, adding, "Even after the announcement of public television’s voluntary agreement with DirecTV, Dish has refused to negotiate in good faith for carriage of local public television signals in HD."

A Dish spokesman declined comment on the issue.

The noncoms said that only in Alaska and Hawaii, where it is mandated by law, does Dish carry the HD signals of local noncommercial stations. In the other 31 markets where it has an HD package, it does not, they opined, while generally carrying the HD signals of the Big Four network commercial stations.

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.