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FCC Derails Satellite Carriage for Digital-Only Broadcaster

The FCC recently turned down Stuart-Fla.-based WHDT-DT's application for direct-broadcast satellite carriage, maintaining that the digital-only station's request is "premature," because DBS digital carriage rules are not yet finalized. The commission said WHDT could refile the request once sturdier rules are in place.

WHDT-DT - which has no analog equivalent -- had complained that EchoStar failed to meet its must carry obligations under the FCC's satellite broadcast signal carriage rules. The FCC must-carry rule takes an "all or nothing" approach to satellite operators carrying analog stations, according to the station.

EchoStar is breathing a sigh of relief, for the time being at least, because carrying HD transmissions would have significantly detracted from their satellite capacity. EchoStar had offered to carry WHDT in a downconverted analog format.

WHDT's downconverted signal is already carried by the local Adelphia cable system.