NAB reacts to must-carry decision

February 13, 2005

After days of intense lobbying in an attempt to stop the FCC’s multicast must-carry vote, last week’s loss was a bitter pill for the 1100 members of the National Association of Broadcasters.

“In Washington, there are no final victories and no final defeats,” NAB President Eddie Fritts said after the vote.

The fight, as Fritts put it, will now move to a federal courthouse and the halls of Congress.

“NAB will be working to overturn today’s anti-consumer FCC decision in both the courts and in Congress,” Fritz said. “We look forward to the fight, because consumers deserve more. And broadcasters will continue to serve our communities, because that is what local stations do best.”

Robert W. Decherd, chairman of Belo Corp. and an advocate of multicast must-carry, said the FCC’s decision allows cable operators to take advantage of a portion of local broadcasters’ spectrum for their own financial gain without any public interest obligation.

Vowing not to give up, he said Belo, owner of 19 television stations, will continue “working with the new FCC Chair and members of Congress to readdress multicast must-carry.”

The cable industry, who fought equally hard to prevent the broadcasters from occupying a significant portion of their bandwidth, were jubilant. Operators said they deserve the freedom to pick and choose the channels that best serve cable customers.

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