Gregg to Pull Digital Must-Carry Amendment

Publish date:
Updated on

Washington -- Sen. Judd Gregg (R-N.H.) has agreed to pull
an amendment that guaranteed digital must-carry for his state's most powerful
network-TV station, ABC affiliate WMUR.

Gregg spokesman Ed Amorosi said the amendment was dead
because Manchester, N.H.-based WMUR and cable operator MediaOne agreed to settle the
relevant issues privately.

"The parties in the matter have resolved the issue, so
it's really moot," Amorosi said.

In July, Gregg, who is running for re-election, attached
the amendment to a $33 billion spending bill to fund the Federal Communications Commission
and other government agencies and departments.

In essence, the amendment required MediaOne to carry
WMUR's digital signal if the cable operator carried the digital signal of WCVB, an
ABC affiliate in Boston. WCVB and WMUR are located in the same market.

WMUR was concerned that absent federal digital must-carry
rules, MediaOne would carry WCVB's digital signal pursuant to a
retransmission-consent agreement, perhaps dooming Manchester cable carriage of WMUR's
digital feed.

Both WMUR and WCVB are planning to launch their digital
services in November.

Scott Olson, WMUR's promotions and marketing director,
said Gregg's amendment brought MediaOne to the negotiation table.

"Because of [Gregg's] extraordinary work,
MediaOne was more than willing to come to the table," Olson said. "They have
given their word to us to distribute our digital signal to New Hampshire."

The resolving of the WMUR problem is a break for the cable
industry, as Washington cable lobbyists were concerned that the Gregg amendment would
apply in other markets where affiliates of the same network are colocated.

The Gregg amendment also applied to direct-broadcast
satellite operators.