NAB, MSTV defend digital must-carry


Cable carriage issues remain as the 2/17/09 deadline for the digital rushes ever closer. The National Association of Broadcasters and the Association for Maximum Service Television have joined forces in reply comments to an FCC inquiry, holding that must carry should carry forth into the new digital regime and that CATV industry arguments to the contrary do not hold water. Cable has an obligation to provide local over-the-air broadcast stations to its subscribers, and may down downgrade the signal. That is has options on how to do this, NAB/MSTV argue, eliminates any First Amendment concerns. They also point out that digital technology render moot any capacity objections. They further charge that the CATV’s effort to limit its obligations to a bare minimum are anti-consumer. NAB/MSTV also seconds the FCC’s recommendation to use loss of bits as the defining standard of material degradation of a broadcast signal, and to hold cable operators responsible to assure that there is no such degradation. "In sum," they conclude, "the cable industry has shown no legal, constitutional or policy reason why the Commission should not adopt its pro-consumer proposals in this proceeding."