The National Association of Broadcasters has asked the FCC to require satellite operators to carry both the high-definition and standard digital channels of all stations in any market where they carry one station in both formats.
Currently, satellite operators are required by FCC rules to carry all local TV stations in any market where they carry any station. The commission sought input on how those rules should be modified in the digital age. It has already required satellite operators to carry station's digital signals.
NAB in a filing at the commission Thursday also said that satellite operators should be subject to "viewability" rules similar to those applied to cable operators in a ruling last fall.
NAB argued that while satellite operators argue the carry one, carry all requirement is an undue burden, the argument doesn't trump "the statutory ban on discrimination," NAB says would be violated if the satellite operators were allowed to "cherry pick" major stations like network affiliates for special treatment.
NAB also argues that must carrying both the SD and HD signals would "violate the spirit, if not the language, of the prohibition against material degradation of the signals of such stations by satellite carriers."
As to the viewability issue, the NAB said that there will be some subset of satellite viewers after the transition to digital that have analog sets and will not be able to view some stations without an appropriate set-top box. It asks that the FCC make it incumbent on satellite operators to make sure all their customers can revive a viewable TV stations signal, just as the FCC required of cable operators.
In its filing the day before , satellite company DirecTV had argued that the additional carriage requirement would be a burden because it would force other programming off the service and be an inefficient use of spectrum.
The FCC has recognized that carriage mandates are tougher for satellite because of the spectrum limitations of satellite's local station carriage, which requires a separate so-called "spot beam" to deliver the signals to their customers.