PBS DTV Deal OK’d

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The boards of the National Cable & Telecommunications Association, the Association of Public Television Stations, and the Public Broadcasting Service have all approved the digital carriage agreement announced Monday, a cable industry source said Friday.

Under the 10-year agreement, cable operators will carry all analog signals during the digital TV transition, plus up to four digital-multicast services provided by a single station in each market, most likely the market’s most widely viewed station.

After analog spectrum has been returned, operators will carry up to four digital-multicast services of each public station in a market. The U.S. has about 350 public stations.

Under the agreement, a multicast offering would be dropped if it duplicated the services of stations in the market, a concession to cable’s interest in husbanding bandwidth. Public stations that surrender their analog signals before the formal end of the transition may exercise their multicast-carriage rights at that point.

Following a short ratification process, cable operators must begin complying with the transition rules within 180 days.

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