Consumer Groups Oppose Multicast Must-Carry


Saying that requiring cable to carry all of a broadcasters' digital signals would only amplify big media's microphone, Consumers Union, Consumer Federation of America, the Center for Digital Democracy and Free Press have weighed in with the House and Senate Commerce Committees against multicast must-carry.

"For example," said the groups, "in a digital environment, FOX, CBS and NBC alone would own stations capable of broadcasting 400 or more channels in the top 25 markets, all of which would have to be carried on cable and satellite systems."

The groups all opposed the FCC's relaxed media ownership rules that would have allowed broadcasters to own more stations in more markets if a Philadelphia appeals court hadn't stayed the rules. They said multicasting would "create the very outcome that Congress has sought to avoid when it rejected FCC’s broadcast ownership rules—the expansion of the reach of dominant media voices."

“Because, at this time, most Americans lack access to alternative sources of local video content and information independent of broadcast television," they concluded, "it is premature for Congress to enact policies which enhance the control of broadcasters over video content on cable and satellite systems,” the groups wrote. 

“We urge you to reject multicast must-carry until such time as Congress can consider it in the context of broader policies to expand consumer access to high-speed broadband technologies that expand access to diverse sources of news and information.”