AT&T will carry all digital broadcast channels

In a move most certainly timed to precede an FCC vote on multichannel must-carry, AT&T said it is willing to carry all of a television station's digital channels.

A senior AT&T official told Reuters that it is already in talks with broadcasters to carry those extra channels in the markets where it rolls out television services.

So far, under the current must-carry rule, the FCC has only allowed a broadcaster to force cable operators to carry its primary signal.

AT&T has argued that it is not a cable company and therefore not subject to the FCC's regulatory rules on the issue, but the telco has told the FCC that it is willing to accommodate the extra channels that broadcasters are planning and starting to offer.

The company asked the FCC to leave it to the providers and broadcasters to work out how the content is delivered and some other technical parameters.

AT&T, based in San Antonio, has plans to pass about 19 million homes by the end of 2008 with its new IP television service and has said it would launch in 15 to 20 markets this year.