The cable industry Friday urged the Federal Communications Commission to
reject low-power television stations' demand for protection from network signals
imported from outside markets and duplication of their syndicated programming.
The government already bars cable systems from duplicating programming of
full-power stations in their markets.
Extending the protection to low-power stations, which often don't have the
signal strength to cover an entire market, runs counter to previous FCC
decisions, the National Cable & Telecommunications Association said in a
filing to the FCC.
By default, the move also would be an unwarranted extension of local
mandatory-carriage rules to low-power stations, the NCTA added.
At issue is a petition by the owners of WAWA-LP Syracuse, N.Y., which
recently began airing United Paramount Network programs.
Venture Technologies Group said WAWA is unjustly denied carriage by the local
Time Warner Cable system, which offers UPN programming from WSBK-TV Boston.
'The FCC has never equated full-power and low-power stations, and Congress
has drawn a distinction in the must-carry context that subordinates the rights
of low-power stations,' the NCTA said.
The low-power broadcasters' request was backed, however, by the Association
of Local Television Stations (ALTV), which represents stations -- generally
full-power -- that are not affiliated with the 'Big Four' networks.
Because of the emergence of UPN, The WB Television Network and Pax TV, ALTV
said, it's time for the FCC to rethink its program-exclusivity rules.
'A low-power station may be the only broadcast
alternative for the emerging networks,' ALTV said.
WFMJ-TV Youngstown, Ohio, and Baltimore's Sinclair Broadcast Group Inc.
oppose new rights for low-power stations, arguing that extending exclusivity
rules would diminish the value of a full-power license.