Commissioner calls on broadcasters to accept localism requirement for must-carry ‘privilege’

Speaking before the 21st Annual Institute on Telecommunications Policy and Regulation in Washington, D.C., FCC Commissioner Jonathan Adelstein called on broadcasters to accept a requirement for localism on every digital program stream that enjoys “the privilege of must-carry.”

In his Dec. 4 remarks, Adelstein told his audience that the FCC has taken several steps to accelerate the transition from analog to digital broadcasting. Among the few things remaining to be done, he said, is the establishment of “comprehensive public interest obligations for the digital era.”

“With respect to (cable) carriage, broadcasters make the case that multicast carriage will further localism,” he said. As a consequence, “there should be no reason why they cannot accept a localism requirement on all their digital program streams that gain the privilege of must-carry.”

Pointing out that new digital technology would allow broadcasters to transmit several channels in their bandwidth allocation, Adelstein contended that it was time to examine how broadcasters would serve the public interest in a digital era.

“We should reaffirm the public interest accountability of our broadcast media,” he said.

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