The NAB president maintains that swing commissioner Robert McDowell might yet be persuaded to support digital multicast must-carry rules. Also, Rehr says he is “fine” with McDowell’s suggestion of breaking up the media ownership proceeding.
“Never give up; never give in,” says NAB President David Rehr when asked to comment on FCC Commissioner Robert McDowell’s latest blow to broadcasters’ hope of the FCC requiring cable operators to carry all broadcast digital multicast channels.
“I think we need to reapproach [digital must carry] in a way that Commissioner McDowell’s concerns would be satisfied,” Rehr told TVNewsCheck.
Rehr was reacting to comments McDowell made yesterday during his first formal press conference. McDowell said he did not believe the FCC has the legal authority to expand broadcasters’ must-carry rights.
Without McDowell’s vote, digital must carry has little hope at the FCC, even though Chairman Kevin Martin is strongly in favor of it. He has only one other vote—Commissioner Deborah Tate—and he needs three on the five-member commission.
The other big broadcasting issue at the FCC is the media ownership proceeding, in which Martin is looking to ease restrictions on newspaper-broadcast crossownership, radio ownership and TV duopolies.
Rehr said he has no problem with McDowell’s suggestion that the FCC break the omnibus proceeding into small ones—each addressing specific limits.
“If I have the football, I just want to move it five yards down the field,” said Rehr. “If that eventually means breaking it up, I am fine with that, if it means doing it together, I am fine with that. As long as we’re doing something to keep moving the ball down the field.”