Public Broadcasters' Response to FCC Rulemaking on Digital Must-Carry

Posted by PBS Publicity on

WASHINGTON, DC - January 24, 2001. We are pleased that the Commission has moved forward on digital television issues, and are especially grateful that three Commissioners indicated their support for public television's digital services. Nonetheless, we have some concerns about the Commission's must-carry ruling.

The Commission's decision that cable operators are required to carry only one multicast digital channel would, if allowed to stand, undermine public television stations' plans to provide a wide range of multicast educational services to their communities.

Millions of school children and nearly 70 percent of American television viewers receive public television through their local cable systems. For the entire public to benefit from our comprehensive array of digital education and local public affairs content, these cable systems must deliver all the educational noncommercial services that each station provides. Without the broad audience guaranteed by cable carriage of digital signals, public stations throughout the country will have additional difficulty raising money for the digital transition from local, state and national sources.

We thank Chairman Powell, and Commissioners Ness and Tristani for each recognizing the potential impact of this decision on public television and the American public, and look forward to working with them toward a resolution of this issue that is faithful to the statute as well as to the public interest. The tremendous potential of this new digital technology -- as a means of enhancing the delivery of educational services to our nations' communities -- must be preserved.

We also welcome the opportunity, in the further notice, to provide the Commission with the information it has requested to demonstrate that dual analog and digital carriage requirements during the transition will not burden cable operators' First Amendment interests.

For more information contact:

Jeannie Bunton, CPB, 202-879-9687
Dara Goldberg, PBS, 703-739-5031
Nancy Neubauer, APTS, 202-887-8409