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FCC Grants Must-carry to Virginia WGBS-LD

WASHINGTON: The Federal Communications Commission has found in favor of a low-power TV station seeking carriage from the regional cable operator. WGBS-LD, licensed to Carrolton, Va., sought carriage on Charter systems serving Isle of Wight County in Southern Virginia. Charter initially said no dice, saying WGBS’s signal didn’t meet the FCC standard for carriage.

LPTVs have to meet a number of conditions to qualify for must-carry status, including a minimum number of hours on air, provisions regarding local news, size of community served, proximity to the headend and quality of signal provided to the headend. WGBS owners Joan and Kenneth Wright said the station fulfilled all the requirements, but Charter disputed its signal quality. The Wrights in turn disputed the way Charter took its signal measurements.

Station personnel were not invited to participate in a second set of tests done in August, when Charter actually used a shorter antenna, WBGS said. The station asked the commission to check into the August test, which it did.

“Upon analysis, we agree with WGBS-LD that there are significant discrepancies sufficient to question Charter’s conclusion that WGBS-LD fails to provide a good quality signal,” the commission’s Memorandum Opinion and Order stated. FCC engineers found that WGBS’s signal strength would have been found adequate had it been tested properly.

The commission ordered Charter to pick up WGBS-LD within 60 days, or submit an engineering study within 20 days demonstrating that WGBS’s strength signal does not meet FCC standards.