To give low-power TV broadcasters more leverage to strike cable carriage deals, their trade group wants federal regulators to grant LPTV stations the same right to protect their network programming as full-power outlets. The Community Broadcasters Association says cable and satellite carriers should not be allowed to import network programs from distant markets if a local LPTV is affiliated with that network. Winning the protection of the FCC network-exclusivity rules, which currently apply only to full-powers, is becoming a top priority for many LPTV operators, thanks to the growth of UPN, The WB, Univision and Telemundo, for which many LPTV's have become affiliates.
Gemstar/TV Guide is asking the FCC to reject AOL Time Warner's latest attempt to strip broadcasters' electronic program guides before adding local TV signals to cable systems' channel lineup. Although AOL Time Warner's request would apply only to analog broadcasts, the same issue will come up when the FCC completes cable-carriage rules for digital broadcasting. Gemstar officials say there's no reason to tackle the issue now and call the bid a backdoor attempt to predispose the FCC toward stripping those rights in the digital world. Gemstar Chairman Henry Yuen noted in a Nov. 27 letter that a once-simmering dispute pitting Gemstar and TV stations against AOL Time Warner cooled 16 months ago after a deal allowed broadcasters' Gemstar-produced EPGs to remain when their analog signals were added to the cable lineup.