Cable Programmers to Invade Capitol Hill


A strong contingent of cable-television-programming executives is planning to
storm Capitol Hill May 16 to lobby against allowing TV stations to demand cable
carriage of their analog and digital signals.

According to the National Cable & Telecommunications Association, the
following programming executives are planning to meet with congressional leaders
and to brief reporters on their activities at a luncheon the same day: Nick
Davatzes, president and CEO, A&E Television Networks; Kate McEnroe,
president, AMC Networks; Dick Beahrs, president and chief operating officer,
Courtroom Television Network; Judith McHale, president and COO, Discovery
Communications Inc.; Mark Bauman, president and COO, Starz Encore Group LLC;
Burton Jablin, president, Home & Garden Television; Steve Brenner, president
and CEO, In Demand L.L.C.; Margaret Loesch, president and CEO, Odyssey Channel;
Gerry Laybourne, chairman and CEO, Oxygen Media; and Larry Wangberg, president,

The NCTA added that about 14 more cable-programming chiefs will participate
in the day's program.

In January, the Federal Communications Commission tentatively concluded that
dual must-carry would violate the First Amendment rights of cable operators,
although the agency agreed to keep the issue alive in a new rulemaking focusing
on whether operators had the channel capacity to accommodate dual must-carry
without bumping established and emerging cable networks.

The FCC dealt another setback to local TV stations by declaring that cable
operators were not required to carry multiple digital-TV signals in the
must-carry context.

The only setback for cable was the FCC's decision that digital-only TV
stations were entitled to demand either analog or digital carriage on cable
systems. The NCTA has asked the FCC to overturn this decision, claiming that it
would unfairly allow digital-only broadcasters to leapfrog cable networks for
placement on congested analog tiers.