Multicast Position Misconstrued, Says Stevens - Broadcasting & Cable

Multicast Position Misconstrued, Says Stevens

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Senate Commerce Committee Chairman Ted Stevens (R-Alaska) said Thursday he is not opposed to the FCC deciding to reverse its policy and require cable to carry all of a broadcast TV station's digital multicast signals.

"It's their duty and I am happy to see them do it," he said.

Stevens said Thursday he was sending a letter to FCC Chairman Kevin Martin to explain that reporters, including this one, had misunderstood him when they reported that he was telling the FCC not to proceed with revising its multicast must-carry policy.

By contrast, House Energy & Commerce Chairman Joe Barton (R-Texas) and House Telecommunications Subcommittee Chairman Fred Upton (R-Mich.) are opposed to that move and told Chairman Martin so earlier this week in no uncertain terms.

Stevens had said at a cable meeting in Washington Wednesday, in reponse to a question about Chairman Martin's pushing for the reversal: "We're hoping that, if it's going to be done, it's going to be done by Congress and not by the FCC. It's too easy to change at the FCC."

Stevens said Thursday that what he meant by that comment was that "eventually, we will try to put it into the law."

"People should realize that it is a regulation that is subject to consideration by us when we get to consideration of the whole digital transition, and that has got to be one of the things that is put to rest, and it can only be put to rest by having a law that cannot be changed by other adminstrative decisisions." (Like for, example, Martin's decision to reverse two previous FCC decisions that must-carry only applied to one and not multi digital channels.)

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