Public television Thursday renewed pressure on the Federal Communications
Commission to require immediate cable carriage of analog and digital broadcast
signals, whether commercial or public.
Arguing that a mandate was necessary to correct a market failure, public TV's
leading institutions said dual-carriage requirements should apply to
large-capacity systems under a 28 percent capacity cap and terminate with the
full market saturation of digital-TV sets and digital-to-analog converters.
"The major limitation on public digital television's ability to serve
communities is whether or not cable gatekeepers will allow their subscribers to
see what our stations have to offer during the DTV transition," said John
Lawson, president of the Association of Public Television Stations, which filed
the carriage proposal at the FCC with the Corporation for Public Broadcasting
Time Warner Cable and Insight Communications Co. Inc. are two cable companies
that have reached digital-carriage deals with public TV stations, which, under
current FCC rules, are not allowed to demand cable carriage of digital signals
until their analog signals has been retired.
"We have not had an opportunity to review APTS' latest dual-must-carry
proposal, but we would point out that cable operators are voluntarily carrying
public TV stations' digital signals in markets including New York; Los Angeles;
Boston; Philadelphia; Las Vegas; Louisville, Ky.; Milwaukee; Minneapolis- St.
Paul, Minn.; San Diego; Omaha, Neb.; and Washington, D.C., among others,"
National Cable & Telecommunications Association vice president of
program-network policy Jill Luckett said.
"The reality is that cable-channel capacity is tight, even on upgraded
systems," she added. "Cable operators already provide every one of their
customers with analog versions of public television stations in their markets,
including, in many markets, multiple public TV stations."