Public Broadcasters Weigh In on Digital

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To the Editor:

The item in "Through the Wire" in the May 1 issue of Multichannel News commented on public broadcasting's "propaganda blitz against cable with regard to digital must-carry."

We are not sure whose "propaganda blitz" your editorialist referenced.

Former National Cable Television Association president Decker Anstrom was quoted in January 1999 as saying in regard to whether a digital must-carry rule is lawful or constitutional, "We firmly believe it isn't, and we are prepared to test that belief all the way to the Supreme Court."

Current NCTA president Robert Sachs was reported to have said last fall, "Having invested billions of dollars to rebuild cable systems to provide more programming choices to consumers, it would be a perverse result indeed if the increased programming choices cable operators seek to offer consumers are eradicated by government-mandated digital must-carry requirements."

The Association of America's Public Television Stations has filed comments and reply comments with the Federal Communications Commission aggressively pursuing digital must-carry rules for public television.

An offer by the cable industry to carry either the broadcasters' analog or digital signals is not a solution. Carriage of the analog signals will continue to be essential to this country's free-broadcast service well into the transition to digital.

Cable carriage of digital signals is essential for speedy and efficient transition to digital-broadcast services. The absence of digital-carriage requirements impedes public television's ability to raise the funds required to construct digital-TV facilities and to deliver on the promises of this multicasting capability.

Public broadcasters continue to have discussions with cable operators regarding the importance of public stations' analog and digital signals being carried to ensure universal access to noncommercial educational programs and services.

For Multichannel News to claim we misrepresented the cable industry's position is disingenuous, at best.

David J. Brugger

President

America's Public Television Stations

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