Sachs to Broadcasters: Nothing Is Automatic

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New York-National Cable Television Association president Robert Sachs said last week that cable carriage of broadcasters' data and multiple digital-programming services is not automatic and must be negotiated.

In a speech to the New York Cable Club here last Thursday, Sachs said the cable industry is legally obligated to carry a TV station's primary video signal, and nothing else.

"The carriage of any additional digital programming should be the subject of marketplace negotiations between cable operators and broadcasters, just as the carriage of cable program networks is negotiated today between cable operators and cable programmers," he said.

In April, National Association of Broadcasters president Edward O. Fritts, responding to a spate of datacasting deals struck by key NAB members, demanded that the Federal Communications Commission require cable operators to carry all digital-broadcast services.

The NAB's views haven't changed. "The NCTA's position is ridiculously anti-competitive, and it's a nonstarter," NAB spokesman Dennis Wharton said in response to Sachs' speech.

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