Key House committee chairmen come out against multicast must carry and warn FCC’s Kevin Martin not to proceed with any plan to create such an entitlement for broadcasters.
TV broadcasters hopes of winning multicast must-carry rights at the FCC are quickly dimming as two key House members made clear their opposition to the entitlement.
In a letter to FCC Kevin Martin this afternoon, House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Joe Barton (R-Texas) and House Telecommunications Subcommittee Fred Upton (R-Mich.) told Martin to put the brakes on any plan to adopt rules requiring cable systems to carry all digital signals of local TV stations.
“We believe that allowing each broadcaster to force video distributors to carry multiple streams of the broadcaster’s programming rather than letting consumer preferences and market forces operate is contrary to the market-oriented philosophy that has guided communications policy during the Bush administration,” the letter says.
“Forcing carriage of additional broadcast streams would only reduce the amount of capacity available for non-broadcast programming at a time when consumers are increasingly watching non-broadcast content and calling for carriage of more independent programming,” it says. “We believe that consumer demand will sort out the right balance between broadcast and non-broadcast programming.”
Any FCC action compelling multicast must carry would also “usurp congressional authority,” the letter says.
Earlier, Senate Commerce Committee Chairman Ted Stevens (R-Alaska) also told the FCC not to move on the issue.