A Florida TV station denied high-definition-TV satellite carriage by the
Federal Communications Commission's Media Bureau has appealed the ruling to FCC
chairman Michael Powell and the other four commissioners.
On Wednesday, broadcaster WHDT-DT in Stuart, Fla., filed an appeal saying
that it had a statutory right to carriage in HDTV format on direct-broadcast
satellite carrier EchoStar Communications Corp.
Media Bureau chief Kenneth Ferree dismissed WHDT's complaint against EchoStar
as premature, saying that the agency had yet to establish rules governing DBS
carriage of digital-TV signals.
WDTV -- which began service last year with a slate of international
programming from German news service Deutsche Welle -- is believed to be the
only station in the country offering HDTV programming on 24-hour basis.
EchoStar is required by law to carry all stations in a market it has elected
to serve with even one local station.
EchoStar opposed WHDT's complaint, arguing that HDTV signals occupy five
times more bandwidth than standard-definition digital signals.
If forced to carry WHDT in high-definition, EchoStar said, it would consider
abandoning the West Palm Beach, Fla., market.
EchoStar offered to carry WHDT in standard-definition, but it could not reach
a deal with the station.