All multichannel distributors now are eligible to use microwave-relay
frequencies to distribute video programming via their internal transmission
networks, the Federal Communications Commission ruled Thursday.
The cable-television relay licenses were originally limited to cable
operators and programming networks. In 1990, eligibility was expanded to
multichannel multipoint distribution (so-called "wireless cable") and
instructional television services.
Now, private cable operators serving apartments and other multiple-dwelling
units, open-video systems and direct-broadcast satellite operators are eligible,
Also authorized was a new channel scheme to increase the number of
frequencies for the relay licenses.
The FCC said it reserved the right to expanded eligibility for use of the
frequencies to additional service.
The frequencies are located in two separate spectrum bands -- 12 gigahertz and 18
Permission to use the frequencies was originally sought by private cable
operator OpTel Inc., now known as TV Max.
FCC commissioner Michael Copps used the opportunity to encourage cable
operators to do better ensuring that raunchy programming isn't aired when
children are likely to be watching.
Although cable doesn't face indecency restrictions as broadcasters do,
holders of cable-relay licenses are nevertheless required to operate in the
public interest, Copps said. "I hope they will pay more
heed to the concerns of their communities, especially when children are
likely to be in the audience," he added.