Multicasting Meets Politicking at FCC

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The logjam blocking digital-TV cable-carriage rules is getting tougher to break. A three-vote coalition of Federal Communications Commission members Kathleen Abernathy, Michael Copps and Kevin Martin appears willing grant broadcasters carriage rights for multicasts.

But Copps is likely to withhold his vote until Chairman Michael Powell pledges to expedite a separate proposal spelling out broadcasters’ DTV public-interest obligations. Powell, who still says a multicast mandate violates cable’s First Amendment rights, has told commissioners he won’t exercise a prerogative to block the vote if it goes against him.

But letting Copps dictate part of the commission’s agenda isn’t going over well with the chairman. Consequently, a vote once thought possible in February is more likely to be in the spring, if then.

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