The Minority Media and Telecommunications Counsel suggested granting cable must carry status to Class A television stations back in July, so it comes as no surprise that the organization heartily supports Kevin Martin’s decision to put the matter before the FCC.” MMTC strongly encourages the Commissioners to support this initiative, which would do much to enhance diversity and localism in television,” wrote MMTC’s David Honig in a letter to Martin. “Unlike full-power stations, Class A stations are required to meet local programming requirements; however, they do not enjoy comprehensive mandatory cable rights. Class A stations have the largest percentage of minority and female ownership of all the broadcast services, and are valuable assets to the communities they serve. Further, about a quarter of these stations are multilingual, and many provide extensive local programming.” MMTC actually does not support extending must-carry to all LPTVs however, which it says may have the unintended consequence of crowding other sources of diverse programming.
The National Cable and Telecommunications Association is digging in against the Martin initiative. Prominently featured on its website homepage is a set of “talking points” entitled “The FCC Should Not Defy Congress and Launch a Rulemaking Extending Must Carry Rights to Additional Low Power Television Stations.” The defying Congress part is the argument that in the Cable Act of 1992, Congress decided low power television did not warrant carriage. NCTA also says such a move would infringe the First Amendment rights of cable operators.
RBR/TVBR observation: Did Congress have the Cable Act of 1992 chiseled onto a stone tablet? It did? I guess NCTA is right, it simply can’t be changed. Puh-leeze. If Congress did it, Congress can undo it. As for the First Amendment, cable operators are free to say whatever they want. However, as users of the public right of way, the government is entitled to a little payback. If NCTA is not interested in increasing program diversity, it is perfectly free to try and buy all of the public space it now uses to string its cable.