Skip to main content

Verizon Argues Against Class-A LPTV Must-Carry

The Federal Communications Commission is getting push-back from cable and telco programmers on its proposal to extend must-carry status to class-A low-power TV stations.

Currently, cable operators only have to carry a single class-A low-power, and only if there are a dearth of full-powers in the market to meet the cable must-carry set-aside.

The FCC proposed that as part of a package of initiatives to encourage programming diversity and localism.

But in comments to the FCC, Verizon Communications argued that granting must-carry status to low-powers would not necessarily promote diversity, and could even harm it by pushing existing channels off the air.

Some cable operators have already argued in the proceeding that the FCC should not grant must-carry to low powers for many of the same reasons. No surprise there -- cable operators generally argue that the government shouldn't be forcing them to carry full-power TV stations, either, an argument also made to the FCC.

The National Association of Broadcasters took issue with cable's position but said it took no position on the granting of must-carry status to class-A low-power TV stations.

That didn't sit well with the Community Broadcasters Association, which represents low-power TV stations and which, not surprisingly, filed its own comments supporting the FCC proposal.

"The NAB's lack of response is either a desire to stay out of the fray or perhaps the fact that the status quo serves their interests more effectively than truly enabling another group of broadcasters to serve local interests," said Greg Herman, vice president of technology for the CBA." I can only speculate why the NAB did not comment. We would certainly look forward to their support. We are all broadcasters first and the suffix on our call-sign should come second."

NAB spokesman Dennis Wharton said the reason why the association did not take a position was that its board never vetted the issue and it was unclear whether or not it would now.

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.