Public TV Presses Case for DBS Carriage

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Washington— Public-television stations want Congress to require carriage of all local public channels’ digital signals.

The Association of Public Television Stations said its members will personally lobby on Capitol Hill to amend Section 338 of the Communication Act so that “must-carry” obligations extend to all HD and other digital programming broadcast by public TV stations.

APTS has a multicast-carriage agreement with the National Cable & Telecommunications Association and said it expects a similar agreement to be concluded soon with the American Cable Association, representing smaller operators. APTS also has a multicast carriage agreement with Verizon Communications for the FiOS TV service, but has been unable to reach a deal with AT&T.

EchoStar Communications and DirecTV aren’t carrying any public-television digital signals, except for a few public-TV stations broadcasting solely in digital, according to APTS.

APTS said it and DirecTV “have begun discussions on a possible digital carriage agreement, taking into consideration DirecTV’s assertions of technical and capacity restraints. DirecTV may be willing to consider a phased-in approach to carriage, but talks are still at an early stage.”

“We have had very productive discussions with APTS about digital signal carriage,” DirecTV senior vice president of government and regulatory affairs Susan Eid said. “We are optimistic that we will be able to reach agreement.”