National Association of Broadcasters

August 31, 2005
Dennis Wharton
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NAB Urges Passage of Pro-Consumer Multicast DTV Mandate

--Station Survey, Financial Study Show Viewers Would Receive More Local TV Choice--

--Cable 'Gatekeepers' Chided for Blocking Programming--

WASHINGTON, DC - The NAB today urged Congress to embrace pro-consumer legislation ensuring viewer access to a multiplicity of new local television programming options in the digital TV era.

NAB unveiled results of a new study demonstrating the financial benefits of multicast DTV carriage by cable systems. In addition, NAB released a survey finding that 85 percent of TV stations intend to create additional local program streams if pro-multicast DTV legislation is passed by Congress.

Types of programming planned by broadcasters include:

-more local news;
-more local weather;
-more local sports;
-more local public affairs/community affairs programming;
-more foreign language programming;
-more coverage of community and political events;
-more local high school and college programming (sports and non-sports);
-more educational/children's programming;
-more cultural events and local arts/entertainment programming

NAB's survey found that nearly 80 percent of TV stations are unlikely to create multicast local program streams without cable system carriage assurances. Additionally, NAB introduced its newest advertisement that will be appearing in Capitol Hill publications stressing the importance of multicast must carry.

"Multicasting is about more competition to cable, and that's why the cable gatekeepers are fighting multicasting so fiercely," said NAB President & CEO Eddie Fritts. "Cable operators don't like competition. They like carving up exclusive territories, and providing programming in which only they own a financial stake."

Fritts forecast an "explosion in new program options" for local TV viewers under multicasting. "But unless there is an assurance that giant cable operators won't block access, there is no incentive for local broadcasters to invest the resources to create new program streams."

Multicast cable carriage is NAB's "number one priority" as Congress prepares to tackle DTV legislation upon its return from August recess, Fritts said. He said multicast carriage is "not a capacity burden" on cable. Fritts cited comments from FCC Chairman Kevin Martin, who has stated that cable operators would have "significantly less" burden carrying digital broadcast programming than analog TV programming given advances in digital compression technology.

The National Association of Broadcasters is a full-service trade association that promotes and protects free, over-the-air local radio and television stations' interests in Washington and around the world. NAB is the broadcaster's voice before Congress, federal agencies and the courts. NAB also serves a growing number of associate and international broadcaster members. Information about NAB can be found at www.nab.org.