PTV Carriage Deal Approved

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Public-TV stations and cable operators Friday approved the terms of a digital-TV-carriage deal announced in January by their respective trade groups and PBS.

The agreement ensures that public stations' digital programming, including the bulk of each station's multiple program streams, will be carried on most cable systems. Formal approval of the deal was contingent on ratification by 80% margins each of public TV stations and cable operators.

MSOs will begin adding public stations' digital multicasts later this year.

"Our stations are aggressively focusing their resources on developing digital multicast programming and services," said John Lawson, president of the Association of Public Television Stations, the group that negotiated the deal noncommercial broadcasters. "With this agreement in place, local Public Television stations will produce more high definition, children's and local programming."

Ratification ensures "that cable customers will for the foreseeable future enjoy the creative, non-commercial digital programming produced by our nation's public television stations, " said National Cable & Telecommunications Association President Kyle McSlarrow.

PBS President Pat Mitchell said the deal "is a crucial part of securing public television's place in the media landscape of the future. " 

When the FCC declined to require cable operators to carry broadcasters' multicasting must-carry last month, commissioners cited the deal as evidence that commercial broadcasters could also negotiate for carriage of their signals.

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