Policy

Fritts to Cable: Tear Down Digital Wall

4/19/2004 6:26 AM Eastern

Las Vegas -- The cable industry has erected a digital wall designed to deny consumers access to HDTV and multicast services of local TV stations, National Association of Broadcasters president Edward Fritts said at the trade group’s annual convention here Monday.

"Here's our message to [Comcast Corp. CEO] Brian Roberts and leaders of the cable cartel: Tear down that wall. Stop blocking consumer access to the best picture the world has ever seen," Fritts said.

Fritts took a few more shots at cable, claiming that operators were denying carriage to two-thirds of the 1,200 local stations that had begun digital service.

"Our DTV and high-definition signals are all dressed up with no place to go,” he added. “I call on the [Federal Communications Commission] to break down the cable industry's digital dam and let the free broadcast signals flow."

He also complained that cable was fighting FCC adoption of a rule that would require cable carriage of multiple digital services from a single TV station.

"The cable monopoly is frightened of potential competition that would be created by hundreds of new channels offered free by broadcasters," Fritts charged.

The cable industry claimed that TV stations are entitled to carriage of a single digital service after surrendering their analog spectrum, with carriage of additional services subject to negotiation.

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