ABC’s decision to pull the plug on broadcasts of digital channel ABC News Now was in part due to the Federal Communications Commission’s apparent plan to deny cable carriage rights to stations’ extra digital channels, a network source asserted.
ABC this week said it would eliminate ABC News Now broadcasts carried by 70 affiliates, as well as 6.5 million digital cable subs
As reported in B&C Jan. 24, ABC will re-launch the TV service in the spring as a cable/satellite service. It's internet and cell phone versions will continue.
“The uncertainty over cable carriage was a factor in eliminating the free over-the-air channel,” the network source said.
Broadcasters are beginning to lobby hard for mandatory cable carriage of all their digital multi-cast channels now that FCC Chairman Michael Powell reportedly has the votes to deny them carriage as a kind of prating shot (he exits in March).
Belo Broadcasting Thursday sent letters to the House and Senate Commerce Committee chairmen pitching multicasting and asking them to to push for a delay on the planned Feb. 10 decision until after a new FCC chairman is installed.
ABC points out that the broadcasts were an experiment with new technology and emphasizes that cable carriage uncertainty wasn’t the only factor in shutting down the channel.