FCC to rule against multichannel must-carry

The FCC, forced by a federal appeals court to update the status of digital must-carry policy, said the issue has been decided, and the answer to anxious broadcasters is "no" to more than the primary digital signal.

The answer is not news - FCC Chairman Michael Powell has repeated it many times previously - but some broadcasters aren't willing to take "no" for an answer. Lowell Paxson is one of them who won't leave the issue alone. Paxson brought the matter to the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, forcing the agency's response.

The FCC previously determined that digital stations' carriage rights are limited to one primary channel and do not include the additional multicast channels that digital transmission enables stations to offer. Powell has said that he and the majority of commissioners still support that policy. He has questioned the legality of requiring cable operators to transmit all of a broadcaster's signals.

Paxson, whose Paxson Communications is owner of a group of mostly UHF television stations, wants the FCC to require cable companies to carry all of the programming that TV stations can offer via their new digital spectrum.

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