Public TV Goes Own Way on Digital Must-Carry

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Public TV stations should win cable carriage for multicast digital signals, regardless of whether regulators grant that right to commercial outlets, the Association for Public Television Stations said Monday. As the FCC struggles to decide whether to expand stations’ must-carry to more than one programming channel, APTS distanced its lobbying effort from commercial broadcasters’.

The FCC commissioners are trying to decide whether it would be lawful to force cable to give more channels to competitors. The law gives the FCC more power to help public stations than commercial ones, said APTS. "Public television receives a distinctive statutory treatment that recognizes its unique purpose, means of support and method of operation," the group said in a filing with the FCC.

The goal of providing nationwide access to public channels is evident in analog-carriage rules, APTS said, because public stations must provide their signals to cable free whereas commercial stations are allowed to negotiate terms of retransmission.

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