A couple of members of the Congressional Black Caucus are urging other legislators to sign on to a letter to FCC Chairman Michael Powell asking him to delay the vote on digital multicast must-carry.
They argue that the issue should not be considered in isolation from the question of public interest obligations in the digital age that the commission is also pondering.
The resolution of the issue, they argue, is "absolutely critical to the success of the DTV transition and the viability of free, over-the-air broadcasting in the digital era," wrote G.K. Butterfield (D-S.C.) and Diane Watson (D-Calif.).
The issue is whether cable and satellite will have to carry all of a broadcasters digital multicast channels. The FCC decided back in 2001 that it did not. Broadcasters petitioned it to reconsider that decision. It has, and is expected by many, including many broadcasters, to uphold that earlier decision.
No signatures yet, but at press time the letter had just been "dropped"-Hill lingo for circulated-a few minutes before. The letter will be sent next week in advance of the Feb. 10 vote.