Comcast Pushing Back on Class A Upgrade Plan

Comcast is fighting an expected proposal by the FCC to let Class A broadcasters upgrade to full power, a reclassification that would grant the stations mandatory carriage rights on local cable systems.

Thursday, Oct. 2, lawyers for the nation’s top cable operator met with lawyers for Democratic Commissioners Michael Copps and Jonathan Adelstein to argue that expanding must-carry rights would be counter-productive and legally impermissible.

Comcast also said any increase in must-carry burdens takes away bandwidth at the expense of HDTV, VOD and other offerings.

FCC Chairman Martin has teed up the issue for the commission’s Oct. 15 meeting.

Representatives of Low-Power and Class A stations have praised the development, as did the Minority Media and Telecommunications Council, which said the plan would enhance diversity and localism in television.

“Class A stations offer the best opportunity for minorities, women and small business to participate and compete in the television industry, which is increasingly consolidated with few opportunities for minority broadcasters,” MMTC wrote the commission today. “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.”