Noncoms Ask FCC For One-Time Satellite Must-Carry Election

WASHINGTON--Noncommercial educational (NCE) TV stations want the FCC to end the mandatory three-year satellite election of most-carry status by noncommercial TV stations, saying it is both unnecessary and that DBS providers have used it as a loophole through which to drop carriage.

That came in comments to the FCC on its ongoing effort to modernize media regs.

In those comments, PBS, NPR, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and America's Public Television Stations said that given that noncommercial TV stations can't, unlike commercial stations, elect retransmission consent--and obviously want DirecTV and Dish to carry them--the election is simply a rote process.

They point out that there is no similar three-year election for cable carriage, which simply continues indefinitely unless there is a change in circumstance that modifies the must-carry agreement.

"The DBS rules should be aligned with the cable rules to permit a one-time election that continues for as long as the station remains qualified for carriage," they said.

In addition, they argue that, in at least a "handful of cases, each three-year cycle, the requirements "turn out to be a trap for the unwary NCE-TV station, resulting in the loss of DBS carriage in the station’s market for the next three years."

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio WorldTV TechTV FaxThis Week in Consumer ElectronicsVariety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.