NAB Gets OK to Pursue Must-Carry


Washington-The National Association of Broadcasters got the go-ahead from its television board of directors last Thursday to seek Federal Communications Commission conditions on America Online Inc.'s merger with Time Warner Inc.

NAB spokesman Dennis Wharton said the association will file a letter possibly "as early as [last Friday]" that will call on the FCC to require AOL Time Warner Inc. cable systems to carry TV stations' digital signals in addition to the already-carried analog signals.

In addition, the NAB will ask the FCC to prohibit AOL Time Warner from discriminating against "unaffiliated content providers" and from "blocking any part of the free broadcasting bit stream," Wharton said.

The NAB was planning to file when comments were due at the FCC May 11, but it pulled back at the last minute.

AOL Time Warner announced the merger Jan. 10. On Feb. 29, the companies unveiled a memorandum of understanding stating that they would provide consumers with their choice of Internet-service providers and allow unlimited video streaming-a potential source of competition to cable networks provided by Time Warner Cable.