Paxson vows to press digital cable carriage fight

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A defiant Bud Paxson vowed yesterday to take to take his fight over digital cable carriage to the Supreme Court.

Paxson was angered by an apparent FCC decision denying his demand for cable carriage of the multiple digital signals that can fit into the same 6 Mhz of spectrum now devoted to one analog signal.

"I'm ready to go the Supreme Court with the existing case," Paxson said Monday during a panel sponsored in Las Vegas yesterday the Association of Local Television stations.
Paxson said afterwards that he hopes to put together a coalition of broadcasters, including ALTV and the National Association of Broadcasters, but no groups are committed yet.

The FCC was expected yesterday to release details of several DTV rulings the commissioners approved Friday. The decisions, according to sources that would make it much harder for broadcasters to get government help completing the transition from analog signals.

They include casting heavy doubt on broadcasters' chances for winning dual analog/digital carriage rights and an outright denial of must-carry rights for multi-cast digital signals. Paxson had requested multicast carriage rights for the six digital signals offered by his WCPX in Chicago.

By pursuing a court fight, Paxson would offer broadcasters perhaps their only avenue engaging in a legal battle with the FCC over digital carriage. By leaving the final question dual analog/digital carriage to the next commission, newly resigned former chairman William Kennard blocked the broadcasters' ability to take that particular issue to court now. - Bill McConnell

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