Carriage Clarified


Rules for carriage of local TV stations on direct-broadcast-satellite systems were issued by the FCC last week. They generally mirror cable-carriage requirements, with some exceptions:

Commercial stations must invoke must-carry rights or elect retransmission consent by July 2001 for the Jan. 1, 2002, cycle. Election deadlines for subsequent cycles will be Oct. 1 of the preceding year.

Election cycles last three years, except the first, which lasts until 2006 to synchronize with cable.

Market areas will be determined by Nielsen's 1999-2000 publications. The commission cannot modify DBS TV markets, as it can with cable.

Carriage of noncommercial stations will not satisfy DBS carriers' public-interest set-aside obligations.

Channel lineups must feature local stations contiguously.

All program-related material must be carried, including material in a station's vertical blanking interval. Exceptions only when carriage is technically infeasible.