Paxson Communications Corp. stations in more than 30 markets are eligible for carriage on DirecTV Inc.,
even though Pax TV's national feed is already carried by the direct-broadcast
satellite provider, the FCC said Tuesday.
DirecTV argued that Paxson agreed not to demand carriage of local stations
until the contract covering the national feed expires in 2005.
But the FCC found more convincing Paxson's assertion that the national-feed
agreement was never finalized.
Under the decision, 36 Paxson stations are eligible for carriage in markets
where DirecTV offers local carriage.
The DBS provider currently offers local lineups in 31 of Paxson's markets,
including New York, Los Angeles, Chicago and Philadelphia.
Now that carriage rights are clear, Paxson officials said they will negotiate
with DirecTV the terms of local carriage and whether to maintain the national
Pax TV feed in markets where local Paxson channels are carried.
DirecTV officials said they plan to appeal the decision at the FCC or in federal court "We believe we have a valid contract to provide spectrum for a national Pax TV feed in exchange for a Paxson waiver of its owned stations' must-carry rights," DirecTV spokesman Bob Marsochi said.