Study: Capacity Constraints Are No Barrier to Must Carry

MVPD capacity constraints are a hollow argument against continuing to carry some TV stations, according to a new study commissioned by the National Association of Broadcasters and religious broadcast groups.

"Any suggestions of technology-based capacity constraints that allegedly limit cable and satellite companies' ability to continue offering existing and new TV program channels lack credibility," the study concludes, citing various technological advances that have increased that capacity over time, including video compression and digital modulation.

The study also argues that cable and satellite operators can make upgrades relatively quickly since they control the distribution platform essentially end-to-end, while broadcasters have to rely on consumers to get new hardware from third parties.

"[T]he advances described in this report indicate that the vast majority of pay television services will encounter few technical obstacles to increasing their program-carrying capacity for the foreseeable future."

The study is from professional engineer Steven Crowley and was commissioned to help counter MVPD arguments on Capitol Hill that must-carry and carry one/carry all mandates take up bandwidth that is then not available for channels those MVPDs argue their customers would rather see.

The House Communications Subcommittee is launching a multi-year effort to revamp communications laws, including those that established mandatory carriage rights for broadcasters.

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.