Affiliates Say FCC Has Multicast Muscle


Framing the issue as "stripping of broadcasters free multicast signals," the CBS, NBC adn ABC, affiliate associations have filed comments with the FCC asking it to find that a cable system that does not carry all of a broadcasters free digital channels is illegally "degrading" the broadcast signal in violation of the 1992 must-carry law.

The groups sent a letter to key House and Senate leaders Thursday informing them of the filing and insisting that "there can be no question that it is within the FCC's authority to implement the congressionally-established non-degradation principle."

The wording was important, since the letter to House Energy & Commerce Committee Chairman Joe Barton and Telecommunications Subcommittee Chairman Fred Upton came a day after reports those two had sent a letter to FCC Chairman Kevin Martin saying he was "usurping" congressional authority by trying to reverse two previous FCC rulings and grant so-called multicast must-carry.

The letter also went to Ted Stevens, chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee, who had also appeared to criticize the FCC multicast effort, but he said Thursday his remarks had been misinterpreted and that he was fine with the FCC proceeding, but added that the issue would ultimately have to be resolved in statute so that it could not change again by an administrative decision.