Public television stations may offer subscription services, including
advertising-supported ones, on a portion of their digital spectrum, federal
judges ruled Friday.
"Digital technology offers enough capacity that public stations can offer
subscription services while still preserving their primary use for public
educational broadcasts," the Federal Appeals Court in Washington, D.C., said.
The United Church of Christ, Media Access Project and others argued that
Federal Communications Commission rules prohibit any advertising or subscription
service on noncommercial channels.
The judges, however, said the FCC was correct when it said in 2001 that the
ad restriction applies only to free broadcasts by the stations and that the high
costs of digital-TV conversion justify new revenue streams as long as a free
primary signal is offered without ads.