It could be the strangest carriage fight in America: A new TV station in
Florida is seeking analog carriage on local cable systems but high-definition-TV
carriage on direct-broadcast satellite carrier EchoStar Communications Corp.
There's nothing Adelphia Communications Corp. and other cable systems in the
area can do because the Federal Communications Commission has already ruled that
digital-only stations like WHDT-DT in Stuart, Fla., can insist on analog cable
carriage for at least the next few years.
But WHDT-DT, which began broadcasting in HDTV five months ago, has filed a
complaint at the FCC arguing that EchoStar must carry the station's signal in
WHDT-DT argued that under federal law, EchoStar is required to carry all
stations in its market once the DBS carrier elected to carry any of them.
EchoStar, which responded to the complaint Wednesday, is apparently willing
to carry WHDT-DT in standard-definition, arguing that HDTV is a bandwidth hog
that diminishes its ability to serve other markets with any local TV
EchoStar also asserted that the FCC has not specifically addressed DBS
carriage of digital-only TV stations.
WHDT, an independent station owned by Guenter Marksteiner, broadcasts locally
produced programming and English-translated international news from German
network Deutsche Welle.