FCC’s Martin Willing to Consider Multicast Carriage Rules

Apr 25, 2006  •  Post A Comment

Federal Communications Commission Chairman Kevin Martin on Tuesday said he would be willing to consider establishing a rule requiring cable TV operators to carry all programming streams multicast on digital broadcast TV channels-if the initiative wins the support of a majority of the agency’s commissioners.

“I think it’s in the public’s interest to be able to broadcast in multicast and have all these free over-the-air signals carried by the cable industry,” Mr. Martin told reporters after speaking at the National Association of Broadcasters convention in Las Vegas.

In February 2005, during the final days of the chairmanship of Michael Powell, the FCC voted 4-1, with Mr. Martin the sole dissenter, to reject multicast cable carriage.

Two of the commissioners who voted against the rule at the time-Democrats Michael Copps and Jonathan Adelstein-are still at the agency.

But since the 2005 vote, one new commissioner-Republican Deborah Taylor Tate-has joined the FCC, and another-Robert McDowell-has been nominated to a third GOP agency seat, offering the possibility of a 3-2 majority for Mr. Martin on the issue.

During his remarks at a convention breakfast session, Mr. Martin said the 2005 vote against multicast carriage rules, which are vehemently opposed by the cable TV industry, represented a “missed opportunity.”

“I think the public could have benefited more from more free programming,” Mr. Martin said in a statement after the 2005 vote.