would like to see it go away, talk
about multicast is here to stay."
www.SkyReport.com - used with permission
SkyFILES: by Michael Hopkins
The issue of whether multiplatform providers should be forced to carry the extra streams of video embedded in a TV station's digital signal has ruffled feathers on both sides. Cable doesn't want to be required to offer multicast content from a local TV station. Broadcasters suggest they cannot get their multicast channels off the ground unless the programming wins distribution on cable (and, presumably, satellite TV).
At the moment, multicast must-carry is not on the D.C. agenda. Capitol Hill lawmakers have bigger fish to fry, such as the nation's transition to digital TV and indecent and violent programming. At the Federal Communications Commission, Chairman Kevin Martin does not have enough support to order multicast must-carry for multiplatform providers.
But that doesn't mean the fight will stop. Martin is a big fan of multicast. And the main TV station lobby inside the Beltway, the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB), still sees multicast must-carry as an important issue.
Nonetheless, it's not as if multicast content isn't gaining carriage on cable.
LATV, a Los Angeles-based programmer that offers TV stations around the nation content for their multicast streams, said local affiliates have won cable carriage for its programming in 90 percent of the markets it serves. Multicast feeds of NBC Weather Plus have cable carriage in several cities.
As one proponent of multicast told us, a cable operator will carry multicast streams if they contain compelling content and the price is right. Also, chances are a broadcaster will make multicast carriage a part of any discussions concerning retransmission consent for local TV stations.
Given those factors, why should there be a multicast must-carry mandate? Let market forces decide what content is delivered to the masses.
(In the meantime, check out this week's BRIDGE on broadcaster efforts in the multiplatform business, including multicast, at: http://www.thebridgemediagroup.com.)