AT&T will carry all digital broadcast channels

Even though a recent attempt to revive multichannel must-carry failed at the FCC, AT&T announced that it is willing to carry all of a television station's digital channels.

A senior AT&T official told Reuters that it is already in talks with broadcasters to carry those extra channels in the markets where it rolls out television services.

Under the current must-carry rule, cable operators are forced to carry only a broadcast TV station's primary signal.

AT&T has argued that it is not a cable company and therefore not subject to the FCC's regulatory rules on the issue, but the telco has told the FCC that it is willing to accommodate the extra channels that broadcasters are planning and starting to offer.

AT&T asked the FCC to leave it to the providers and broadcasters to work out issues such as how the content is delivered.

AT&T, based in San Antonio, has plans to pass about 19 million homes by the end of 2008 with its new IP television service and has said it would launch in 15 to 20 markets this year.

In a related story, Verizon Communications, the chief competitor to AT&T in telco video, said it will carry public television programming on its new subscription video service. This includes the full range of public television programming, including next-generation multicast offerings.

Last year, the Association of Public Television Stations (APTS) reached an agreement for cable operators to carry up to four digital channels of noncommercial programming offered by each public television station in a market.