Skip to main content

Programmers Opposing Either-Or Carriage

Two cable programmers are trying to shoot down a cable-carriage mandate that would require cable systems to carry TV stations' analog or digital signals.

Officials from Bloomberg Television and TechTV told Federal Communications Commission officials recently that the so-called either-or must-carry proposal amounted to little more than "back-door" dual must-carry.

In an Oct. 23 filing, the two cable networks explained that if stations elected digital carriage, the two-thirds of current cable subscribers without digital boxes would insist on access to the stations. That would force cable companies to downconvert the digital signals or voluntarily carry the analog signals.

"In either case, the effect is the same: an impermissible back door to dual must-carry," Bloomberg and TechTV said.

Cable operators and programmers are concerned that if the FCC were to endorse some of broadcasters' carriage demands, cable systems would not have the capacity to carry cable networks, which do not have the same off-air access to consumers that TV stations have.

The cable industry's position is that TV stations are entitled to mandatory carriage of one digital-programming service after they have surrendered their analog licenses. In January 2001, the FCC rejected the either-or approach, but Bloomberg and TechTV told the agency, "Some parties may be attempting to revive" it.