Broadcast-Cable Talks on Carriage Proposed

Jul 26, 2004  •  Post A Comment

National Association of Broadcasters President and CEO Eddie Fritts has asked the National Cable & Telecommunications Association to resurrect talks to see whether the two industries can resolve a long-running dispute over carriage rights for broadcasting’s digital TV signals.

“Our goal should be simple: to set aside past policy differences while doing what’s best for the viewing public,” Mr. Fritts said in a July 26 letter to NCTA President and CEO Robert Sachs. An NCTA spokesman said Mr. Sachs plans to meet with his NAB counterpart — a course of action being recommended by Rep. Billy Tauzin, R-La.

Nonetheless, the NCTA spokesman warned that the cable TV industry does not see dual carriage of broadcasting’s analog and digital signals during the transition to DTV as a solution.

“We hope NAB has more constructive ideas than asking cable operators to carry every commercial broadcast station twice,” the NCTA spokesman said. According to NCTA, NAB “abandoned” similar discussions two years ago.

Dennis Wharton, an NAB spokesman, said the previous round of discussions with NCTA resulted in no progress. But Mr. Wharton said NCTA’s claim that broadcasters had scuttled the talks was “absolute hogwash.”