FCC May Tinker With Must-Carry and Channel Placement

Cable operators want to control their tiers

The FCC this month will consider whether to dump a requirement that must-carried broadcasters be placed on a cable operator’s basic tier. FCC Chairman Kevin Martin told reporters this week that he intended to circulate a proposal that would prevent broadcasters, cable and satellite operators from dictating channel placement on a given distribution system.

Martin also wants to level $11 million in fines on multichannel video carriers that haven’t done enough to educate viewers about the DTV transition, according to John Eggertion at B&C. Other proposals potentially on the docket for the FCC’s Dec. 18 general meeting include a DTV translator service and a six-month deadline on complaints from programmers that can’t wrangle carriage on distribution systems.

Martin may also put forth a spectrum auction plan requiring a 25-percent set-aside for free broadband service. The winner would have to build out the spectrum within five years or see it reclaimed by the agency, which would then open it for unlicensed use.