FCC Allows Sat-TV to Phase In HD

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Satellite companies won a partial victory last week when the FCC voted to allow a phase-in requirement that they carry all HD signals in any market where they carry any after the Feb. 18, 2009, switch to digital TV by all full-power TV stations.

The commission also ruled that DirecTV's and Dish Network's requirement to carry all TV stations in a market where they carry any extends to DTV signals just as it applies to analog TV stations.

Satellite broadcasters will have four years to phase in delivery of local stations' HD signals, the FCC said, explaining that it recognized the “unique” capacity constraints of satellite and accepted their argument that an immediate mandate would slow the rollout of HD service.