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01.05.2004
Originally featured on BroadcastEngineering.com
Public broadcasters urge FCC to hasten mandatory cable carriage for DTV signals

The Association of Public Television Stations (APTS), the Public Broadcasting Service and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting in December made their case in a filing with the FCC explaining why the commission already has the authority to adopt rules governing digital cable carriage that apply to public television stations.

The filing contended that cable companies should be required to carry all free over-the-air TV, including commercial and non-commercial stations. However, it emphasized that “unique statutory, factual, economic and historical circumstances” exist making it incumbent upon the commission to mandate cable carriage of the digital signals of public television stations.

In November, the APTS announced that it would begin exploring when a “hard date” might be set for public television stations to relinquish the spectrum used to transmit their analog signals. Returning that spectrum hinges on instituting mandatory cable carriage of public television digital channels.

"Any plan for an early return of analog spectrum is dead without guarantees-either negotiated or mandated-that all of our stations' digital signals are carried on cable and direct broadcast satellite systems,” said association president and CEO John Lawson. “Without this carriage, we would not be able to ensure that we are fulfilling our universal service obligations in the post-analog world."

Public television stations look upon the transition to digital as an opportunity to enhance service to their communities. “Digital public television (D-PTV) stations are able to broadcast multiple streams of standard definition digital television programming at a visual quality better than the current analog standard - all within the same bandwidth used by one cable channel,” Lawson explained. “This 'multicasting' will be an invaluable tool in enabling public television stations to meet their public service obligations - as repeatedly acknowledged by Congress and the FCC - in ways never before possible. Our filing today again asks the FCC to provide for mandatory cable carriage of all of public television stations' mission-related program streams."

For more information, please visit: www.apts.org.

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