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FCC Rejects Multicast Must-Carry for Cable

Score one for the cable guys. In a big victory for both cable operators and cable networks earlier today, the FCC turned down a proposal to make cable systems carry the multiple digital TV signals of broadcast stations in their markets. The Commission rejected the proposed multicast must-carry rule by a 4-1 vote despite a massive lobying effort by broadcasters. In addition, by an unanimous vote, the FCC rejected a separate dual must-carry rule for cable operators. This means that cable operators won't have to carry both the analog and digital signals of each local broadcast station during the broadcasters' current DTV transition. In a statement, NCTA President & CEO Robert Sachs hailed the votes as "a major victory for consumers" and praised outgoing FCC Chairman Michael Powell for "his vision and leadership in promoting the DTV transition." But the battle, which has been raging between the broadcasting and cable industries for at least four years, is far from over. Broacasters have already vowed to take their cause to the courts and Congress, which is preparing to rewrite the 1996 Telecom Act this session.
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