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Verizon To Carry PBS Multicast Channels

Verizon will take a page from the cable industry and give noncommercial stations' digital multicast must-carry channels a home on its FiOS video service.

The deal is said to be effective immediately and to include all the multicast channels of all PBS stations in all markets.

PBS, the Association for Public Television Stations, and Verizon have scheduled a Friday press conference where they plan to discuss a "far-reaching agreement on digital programming," which will include multicast carriage.

Last year, noncoms and the cable industry struck a carriage deal that the cable industry used as evidence that private negotiations, not government-mandated carriage, was a viable route to carriage of TV station's multicast signals.

Apparently, FCC Chairman Kevin Martin was not convinced. This week, he signaled his intention to try and reverse FCC policy and mandate multicast carriage for stations.

For their part, telcos like Verizon are trying to get the Congress to pass video franchise reform legislation so they can speed the rollout of Internet and TV service.

The Verizon deal is described as even better than the cable deal, which had limitations on the number of stations and multicast channels.