DBS chafes at must-carry rules

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Satellite carriers and broadcasters continue to squabble over rules for carrying local TV stations in a proceeding at the FCC.

Satellite TV companies don't want to have to carry every local TV station in every market they serve, as a 1999 satellite TV reform law requires them to do by the end of 2001. They say having to carry every local home-shopping station and religious broadcaster is a waste of valuable capacity, particularly because every channel offered on satellite, unlike cable, can be transmitted across the entire country.

" 'Must-carry' regimes actually frustrate consumer preference," wrote the Satellite Broadcasting and Communications Association last week. "Consumers are denied the local, regional or national programming they truly desire, while system capacity is occupied by duplicative or limited-interest programming mandated by government fiat." But broadcasters argue that, without such a requirement, many TV stations would go out of business.

In comments filed at the FCC last week, the Association for Local Television urged the commission to stay "faithful" to the law and to "foreclose discriminatory treatment of local television stations by satellite carriers."

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