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PBS: Force News-Hughes to Carry HDTV

Public broadcasters want federal approval of the proposed merger between News
Corp. and DirecTV Inc. parent Hughes Electronics Corp. to contain
digital-programming mandates, including HDTV-carriage requirements.

The Association of Public Television Stations and PBS stated their demands in
comments filed on the merger Monday with the Federal Communications

The public TV groups called on the agency to ensure that DirecTV carries
their multiple digital signals and HDTV services in local markets served by the
satellite carrier.

The FCC, which is reviewing the News-Hughes combination, has not adopted
rules regarding mandatory satellite carriage of digital-TV signals. Satellite
carriers are worried about HDTV signals consuming too much channel capacity.

News Corp. chairman Rupert Murdoch speculated last month that new technology
would make HDTV less burdensome in about three years.

In another request, the public broadcasters asked the FCC to ensure that
satellite subscribers did not need to use two dishes to receive all local TV
stations in a market.