Barrett Promotes Telco/Broadcast Partnership

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In a speech to the U.S. Telecom Association in Las Vegas Tuesday, Hearst-Argyle CEO David Barrett said that broadcasters will welcome telcos into the TV family, particularly if they will help them secure mandatory multichannel video carriage of their multicast DTV signals.

Barrett, who chairs an FCC-created task force on emergency communications, billed broadcasters as key "first informers" in times of emergency whose multicast channels will only provide additional important local info to their communities.

"If telephone companies can help us secure multicast carriage for all television viewers," he said "you will find broadcasters across America welcoming your arrival to the program distribution market," he said.

"You are a natural ally in the multicasting debate. Your industry’s stated desire to expand—rather than impair—consumer access to digital programming stands in stark contrast to the arguments of your competitors," Barrett said.

Barrett was referring particularly to a speech by Verizon chief Ivan Seidenberg to the NAB in April saying that Verizon's fiber network changes the “conversation about scarcity to one about abundance.�

That played well with broadcasters fighting for space on cable systems for their digital channels, though Barrett says they should not have to fight since they only wanted the full channel they had coming to them to split as they saw fit.

“Given our shared commitment to expanding choice and enhancing content," he told the telco audience, "the sooner we embark on this partnership the better.�

"Whether you are providing fiber to a neighborhood node or directly to a customer’s home," he said, "your new distribution platforms are perfectly poised to capitalize on, and to enhance, the promise of local digital broadcast television programming.Barrett has been one of the most vocal advocates of multicast carriage, saying that not to do so by cable is simply an effort to strip out potential competition.

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