Lott Speaks up for Multicast Must-Carry

Despite broadcasters' claims that they will have little incentive to produce multiple streams of digital programming unless cable systems carry all the multicast signals, the notion of "multicasting must-carry" has enjoyed little sympathy from the FCC or the House staff threatening to introduce a comprehensive DTV-stimulus bill.

But Senate Minority Leader Trent Lott (R-Miss.) is urging at least "thoughtful consideration" of expanded must-carry.

In an Oct. 11 to FCC Chairman Michael Powell, Lott and fellow Republican Sen. Larry Craig of Idaho expressed concern that limited carriage requirements "will have an increasingly disproportionate effect on local and independent broadcasters, a group that includes many religious and multilingual broadcasters, as cable systems convert from analog to digital and the capacity of their systems expands significantly."

The senators say they're worried that unless broadcasters gain continued carriage of the full 6 MHz spectrum, "then the constructive and positive programming which they offer will be highly diluted as a percentage of the total channels available on digital cable systems."

The senators also asked Powell to share with them his thoughts on the matter.