Paxson Challenges Must-Carry Decision


A source familiar with the filing said Paxson Communications Corp. CEO Bud Paxson has filed an appeal with the D.C. Circuit of the Federal Communications Commission's decision not to force cable to carry broadcasters' multicast channels.

Paxson had filed a writ of mandamus with that court last December asking it to put the FCC on the clock for a decision he said should have been made several years ago.

The court did force the FCC's hand, and the commission announced its decision Feb. 10, but it was not the answer Paxson wanted.

The FCC denied broadcasters mandatory cable carriage of both their analog and DTV signals during the DTV transition or of any DTV signal but their primary replication of the analog signal.

Paxson had wanted the FCC to require cable companies to carry all of the programming that TV stations can offer via their new digital spectrum. That would have increased the value of Paxson's mostly-UHF stations, which are widely believed to have been on the block, or near it, for some time.

Paxson also argued that the delay was holding up the digital transition and denying analog spectrum to emergency communications.

Given the fact that the FCC did what the court asked in deciding the issue, and that the courts generally defers to the expertise of federal agencies on their own rules and interpretations, Paxson's challenge faces an uphilll fight.