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Must carry.....HDTV

677 Views 5 Replies 6 Participants Last post by  pdennant
I must have too much time on my hands.

I was thinking about must-carry today after listening to Charlie Ergen's conference call this afternoon. He says that Dish is ready for it in 2002 if they lose their court battle but it got me wondering what would happen if some of the stations in markets they carry demanded carriage of their DTV stations.

Is there anything in the must carry law that would prevent a station from doing that?
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The FCC rules have not been super clear, but if I am not mistaken any station can request must carry for their digital signal.

But then the carrier does not have to carry the NTSC signal (and they have to only carry the 'main' signal when the station is multicasting).

There are a LOT more people with NTSC only Dish Network receivers than there are people with Dish 6000 units, so it would not make much economic sense.

Could some PITA station really request digital must carry for their 1080i signal? What if they was their only signal?
"Could some PITA station really request digital must carry for their 1080i signal? What if they was their only signal?"

This has actually already happened (sort of.)

Earlier this year a digital-only station that's still not even on the air yet, WHDT-DT, Stuart, FL (West Palm Beach ADI) successfully petitioned the FCC to force a cable system to carry their 720p/60 digital signal OR a down-converted NTSC version thereof.

Here's the website of the phantom station: www.whdt.net
IF Dish has the option to choose the Analog or Digital feeds from a particular station thye will ALWAYS take the digital feed (Far cleaner picture)! It doesn't matter what kind of TV a subscriber has because Dish is ALL digital and the subscriber's receiver will downconvert the dignal to Analog like is does for all the other channels that are digital as well!
Broadcasters have two choices with the cable companies: Retransmission Consent or Must Carry.

Must Carry is just that...the cable company must carry them on there "basic" tier service. This is almost historic these days. Cable companies came into existence to relay, by copper rather than ether, the weak signals of broadcast stations in the early days. While cable companies don't use the RF spectrum, they do have access to telephone poles and other right-of-ways that many companies do not. In exchange, under this option, they must carry all local broadcast signals that do not opt for Retransmission Consent. The FCC, under heavy lobbying from the NCTA, ruled that cable companies must carry only one of the broadcasters signals. Since there is no real technical standard for DTV over cable and owing to the small penetration of DTV sets (when compared to penetration of analog sets), very few broadcasters who operate NTSC stations have opted for Must Carry of DTV signals.

Under Retransmission Consent, the broadcaster can negotiate something of value in exchange for the cable company retransmitting the station to it's subscribers. However, the cable company is not required to submit to the demands of the broadcaster in this case. If an impasse is reached the cable company can opt not to carry the television station on it's system. This has happened in various markets across the country. The cable company usually wins out because the broadcaster can't afford not to be carried when the competing stations are still on the cable systems as a majority of homes do not have off-air receive capabilities.

There are only a few broadcasters who have negotiated an agreement with their local cable company. The ones I know about have done this as a stand alone agreement outside the Retranmission Consent or Must Carry edicts.

- Peter Dennant
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