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Industry awaits multicast, digital-must carry action

The eyes of the commercial broadcast and cable television industry will be on Washington, D.C., Feb. 10 as the FCC commissioners hold their next open meeting.

It is widely expected that the commission will address the question of whether cable system operators will be required to carry the digital multicast signals of television stations.

Out-going FCC Chairman Michael Powell, who announced that he would step down in March, has publicly stated that he opposes imposing any sort of DTV multicast must-carry requirement on cable operators.

In a related matter, the Association of Public Television Stations and the National Cable & Telecommunications Association announced a deal to make available multiple channels on cable systems with in excess of 750MHz of available bandwidth for digital multicast channels from public television stations. (See “Public television, NCTA announce digital multicast carriage agreement nationwide” in this edition.) Members of the FCC have applauded the parties to the agreement for resolving the issue with no government involvement.

At a press conference after last month’s open commission meeting, out-going Chief of the Media Bureau Ken Ferree said a plan to bring complete the analog-to-digital transition was on the chairman’s desk, and it could address DTV multicast on cable, or the matter could be taken up separately.

The open commission meeting will begin at 9:30 a.m. at FCC headquarters. Video coverage of the meeting is available at

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