HBO Slams Paxson’s Cable-Carriage Plan

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Home Box Office is protesting Paxson Communications Corp.’s ongoing campaign to force cable operators to carry TV stations’ multicast services.

Paxson recently made the must-carry pitch to the Federal Communications Commission in connection with the agency's informal plan to end the digital-TV transition Dec. 31, 2008.

“Based on the record, there is no justification for moving broadcasters, and their vague programming promises, to the front of the line for cable carriage and relieving them of the obligation to prove the value of their digital content through marketplace negotiation,” HBO told the FCC Tuesday in comments filed by its Washington, D.C.-based outside counsel.

Paxson -- which has gone to court to force the FCC to decide digital-TV-carriage issues -- wants the agency to require cable to carry one of its multicast services in analog and several more in digital.

HBO said consenting to Paxson’s carriage plan “would only deprive consumers of the opportunity to experience the offerings of other networks, which may have superior content but not the priority privileges that the broadcasters continue to seek.”

The pay service added that 75%-80% of its content was available in HDTV, while “most broadcasters have yet to offer much high-definition television or innovative new programming using their digital spectrum.”

HDTV, HBO said, “will motivate consumers to purchase digital receivers,” not mandatory carriage requirements for digital-TV stations.