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94 cable nets to Congress: No multicast

Mon, 09/12/2005 - 8:00pm

Copyright 2005 VNU Business Media, Inc.

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mediaweek.com

September 12, 2005

By Todd Shields

From Lexis Nexis

Ninety-four cable programming networks on Monday asked Congress to deny broadcasters' request that cable operators be forced to carry all digital programs that TV stations broadcast.

The plea -- from networks that provide news and public affairs coverage, religious, Spanish-language and other programming -- comes as Congress nears key votes on digital TV. Matters to be settled include setting a date to finish traditional analog broadcasts and move solely to digital broadcasting.

Broadcasters want the digital TV votes to include multi-cast must-carry. They say localities will benefit if the cable operators who reach most TV homes carry the potential plethora -- as many as six -- programs they can air when broadcasting in digital.

Cable officials say granting channels to broadcasters would crowd out other programming. "A vast expansion of broadcasters' must-carry rights would undermine our ability to compete in the marketplace, causing irreparable harm to programming diversity and to consumers," said the cable networks' letter on Monday. Those signing included Discovery Communications, A&E Network, CNN, HBO and the Weather Channel.

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