Affiliates of Big 3 Seek to Stop FCC’s Digital Carriage Vote

Jan 31, 2005  •  Post A Comment

With a Feb. 10 digital TV carriage vote at the Federal Communications Commission expected to go cable’s way, representatives of the Big 3 TV network affiliate associations on Monday formally asked the FCC to pull the plug on all DTV-related votes while Congress reviews the digital transition issues.

“The future of the public’s over-the-air television service is almost certainly at stake,” said representatives of the ABC, CBS and NBC network affiliate organizations in an agency filing.

Affiliates are particularly concerned by reports that FCC Chairman Michael Powell has put together a majority at the agency to defeat a broadcast industry-backed proposal that would require cable operators to carry all of a broadcaster’s multicast digital signals. Mr. Powell would limit cable’s carriage obligation to one primary digital programming stream offered by broadcasters, no matter how many streams are offered.

“The only real effect of the commission’s denial of multicast carriage rights will be to abet cable systems’ anticompetitive strategies and impact, deprive the public of new free and often local services, and jeopardize even existing broadcast operations that need to adapt to the new digital, multicast environment,” the affiliates said.