To give low-power TV broadcasters more leverage to strike cable carriage deals, their trade group wants federal regulators to grant LPTV stations the same right to protect their network programming as full-power outlets.
The Community Broadcasters Association last week endorsed a rulemaking petition filed to the FCC in October by owners of WAWA-LP Syracuse, which recently began airing UPN programs. Venture Technologies Group says its low-power station is being unjustly denied carriage by the local Time Warner cable system. The cable operator instead offers UPN programming from WSBK-TV Boston.
Venture officials say cable and satellite carriers should not be allowed to import network programming from distant markets if a local low-power station is affiliated with that network. Winning protection of the FCC network exclusivity rules is becoming a top priority for many LPTV operators thanks to the growth of minor nets such as UPN, The WB, Univision and Telemundo.
LPTV outlets, which enjoy a much smaller coverage area than their full-power counterparts, aren't entitled to demand cable carriage so affiliation with the increasingly popular minor nets helps them sway cable companies strike voluntary carriage deals.
Although only a handful of low-power stations are affiliated with the Big Three networks, more than 100 are affiliated with the minor nets. More than 20 LPTV stations also are affiliated with Fox.
Cable and satellite carriers are expected to oppose the requests but have until Dec. 19 to respond formally.
- Bill McConnell