Cable Nets Unite To Fight Multicast Carriage


In a letter to FCC Chairman Kevin Martin Monday, what appears to be every cable network from A to W has voiced its opposition to a DTV multicast must-carry mandate.

They argue that a "vast expansion of broadcasters' must-carry rights would undermine our ability to compete in the markeplace, causing irreparable harm to programming diversity and to consumers, and violating fundamental First Amendment protections."

Martin has proposed reversing two earlier FCC decisions and requiring cable to carry all of a broadcaster's multiple free digital channels, not just a digitail duplicate of their analog.

Cable networks are concerned that multiple must-carry would eat up spectrum otherwise available to advanced services and smaller, niche cable networks, the latter of which might get bumped to make room for the government mandated carriage.

Signatories to the letter from the programmers numbered over 100 and included virtually all the big names from BET to C-SPAN to Discovery ad infinitum (there are at least nine Discovery-named nets), to Halllmark to HBO to MTV, to TBS to the Weather Channel.