FCC Delays Vote on Cable Carriage of Low-Power Stations

Oct 14, 2008  •  Post A Comment

The Federal Communications Commission is delaying a vote on taking steps to give low power stations a path toward becoming regular stations.
A proposal to start an FCC rulemaking on the issue was removed today from the agenda of Wednesday’s FCC meeting in Nashville, Tenn., pleasing small cable systems but upsetting low-power stations.
The low-power stations, many of which carry foreign language or religious programming, in some cases aren’t converting to digital and are worried that they will lose viewers in the digital transition. The stations have urged the FCC to take steps to require cable providers to carry their signals just as they have to carry signals of full-power stations.
Small cable providers, meanwhile, have warned about the technical issues of carrying the additional stations on cable systems that weren’t designed to carry that many channels.
The delay was praised by the American Cable Association, which represents smaller cable systems. It said a better solution would be for the FCC to step in to give cable systems more freedom to pick and choose which channels to carry. ACA wants the FCC to block media companies from negotiating only for channel bundles.
“The goal of promoting diverse programming is an admirable one, but this sort of mandate doesn’t serve consumers’ best interests,” said ACA CEO-President Matthew M. Polka. “The commission can promote more local and diverse programming by adopting modest reforms aimed at fixing the broken wholesale programming market. Preventing full-power broadcasters and programmers from coercing cable and satellite providers into paying for unwanted programming bundled with wanted channels would free up system capacity and cash better spent on carrying independent networks, including [the low-power] stations.”
The Coalition for Local Television and the Community Broadcasters Association warned the delay will mean that even if the FCC eventually acts, no action will take place before viewers lose the stations in February.
“We are extremely disappointed. In addition to the petition we circulated on Friday [from 150 stations] in support of the proposal, owners and station employees were driving or flying from around the country on their own time and expense to be heard,” said Mayela C. Rosales, EVP, Azteca America SWFL, D’Latinos and a member of the Coalition for Local Television.


  1. The cable industry has rejected carrying LPTV stations because of the limited cable capacity since 1993. In 93 the cable industry carried a maximum of 36 channels. Now the cable capacity is beyond 200 channels and still there is no room for Local Low Power TV stations. The big guys must be afraid of us little guys who produce hyper local news and information.

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