FCC Was Right the First Time, Says NCTA

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Not wanting to be left out of the blizzard of filings and letters on digital multicast must-carry swirling around Washington, the National Cable & Telecommunications Association weighed in Thursday evening reiterating its stand against the mandated carriage.

At the prompting of broadcasters, the commission is reconsidering a 2001 decision finding that broadcasters are not entitled to more than the digital replication of their primary analog channel.

The FCC was right the first time, said NCTA in a letter to FCC Chairman Michael Powell.

"After four years and a steady stream of comments and ex parte filings, it is clear that the commission's decision not to require dual or multicast carriage was the right one. It was right as a matter of statutory construction. It was right as a matter of constitutional law. And it is right as a matter of sound public policy. It should be affirmed and reconsideration should be denied."

Broadcasters counter that carriage of all the free digital services they can carve out of their spectrum allotment is essential to the competitiveness, and thus survival, of local broadcasting in a multichannel world. An FCC vote is scheduled for Feb. 10.

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