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Verizon, Noncoms Unveil Carriage Deal

Verizon and public broadcasting stations Friday revealed details of a multicast carriage agreement similar to one struck between public broadcasters and the cable industry last year, though with some key differences as well.

According to the multi-year deal, all of Verizon's FiOS systems--its new video service--will agree to carry the "full digital signal" of as many as three stations in a market, as well as any others that do not duplicate programming from one of those three.

Carriage of both analog and multicast channels for those stations will begin as soon as they sign off on the deal.

The deal even goes beyond the sort of mandated digital multicast must-carry broadcasters have been seeking from Congress and the FCC. While that only applies to free services, the Verizon deal covers "certain subscription-based educational data," according to APTS.

Subscription services are not part of the cable deal, either, but only because they were not raised as part of the discussion, according to an APTS spokeswoman.

The key difference between the two deals, says APTS President John Lawson, is that the deal with the National Cable & Telecommunications Association is for a single station in every market, chosen by NCTA. Lawson says Verizon has the advantage of fiber to the home and more bandwidth to carry more stations.

So, is the telco deal sweeter than cable's? Lawson will only say that "we appreciate Verizon's willingness to carry our full range of digital services now."