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Fritts to Roberts: Tear Down This Wall - Broadcasting & Cable

Fritts to Roberts: Tear Down This Wall

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The National Association of Broadcasters had fighting words for cable and the Federal Communications Commission Monday, with asociation president Eddie Fritts telling the commission it needed to get get a move on and provide full digital must-carry to broadcasters. He called it "mystifying" that the FCC had yet to take action on what he characterized as "the biggest decision of all."

Fritts went on to slam Comcast CEO Brian Roberts and the "cable cartel" for not agreeing to carry broadcasters full DTV signal. "Tear down that wall! Stop blocking consumer access to the best TV pictures the world has ever seen," he said, echoing Ronald Reagan's call to Gorbachev to dismantle the Berlin wall.

Cable argues that it does not have the capacity to carry every digital channel without bumping some of its own, and that the regs governing the transition only requires cable operators to carry broadcasters primary digital signal anyway.

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The Fritts Years

After an awesome 23-year run, NAB chief Eddie Fritts is about to step down. His record is awesome—but not flawless. He helped the industry shed onerous rules limiting the size and power of radio- and TV-station owners. At the end, however, he couldn't repair fissures that have divided broadcasters in fundamental ways.