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FCC dismisses broadcasters’ request to extend dual carriage

The FCC has refused to grant a stay of its dual carriage order on cable must-carry, denying a request from over-the-air television broadcasters. This means, beginning in December, cable operators can stop delivering must-carry stations in both analog and digital formats. It could also means that some niche channels (e.g., foreign language programming) might not get the carriage they need to serve local communities.

The commission originally voted unanimously in June to end a requirement that cable operators deliver a hybrid signal in both analog and digital. Broadcasters had tried to get the FCC to renew the rule for another three years.

Cable operators argued that the rule had served its purpose and it was time to end it to add more capacity to its systems to better serve subscribers.

Lobbying on both sides of the issue was intense, but the broadcasters lost. Earlier this month, the NAB sought a stay of the order until the D.C. Circuit of Appeals could hear the NAB’s appeal of the decision. Several cable TV interests opposed that move as well.

Comcast has asked the FCC to hold off on its decision until the same appeals court could hear its challenge. The appeals court last week granted its own stay of the FCC decision until it could hear Comcast’s challenge.