DIRECTV's Turn: DBS Giant Targets NAB Proposal

DIRECTV took aim at the National Association of Broadcasters and its push for local HD channel carriage obligations Monday, saying the group is trying to extract additional benefits from the coming digital TV transition.

The NAB has been lobbying the Federal Communications Commission for requirements that DBS operators carry the signals of all local broadcast stations in high def immediately and for all of the nation's 210 DMAs. In a letter sent to the commission, DIRECTV said the latest effort from the broadcaster group is another attempt to use the nation's digital TV transition as a vehicle to impose additional mandates on video platforms.

"In proceeding after proceeding, NAB and its constituent broadcasters have attempted to improve their own commercial positions by expropriating facilities deployed at great expense by others," DIRECTV said. "This latest proposal is no different."

DIRECTV asked the FCC to reject NAB's proposal, saying it was "overreaching, unwise and insupportable."

Also in its letter, DIRECTV wrote about a proposal developed with DISH Network for a HD must-carry regime. Under their offer, the companies said they would deliver HD locals for the markets they serve on a phased-in basis, offering service in cities with satellite-delivered HD locals within four years.

"Such an approach is necessary to ensure a smooth digital transition, preserve competition among MVPD (multichannel video program distributor) providers, avoid disrupting service to tens of millions of American consumers, and allow sufficient time for business planning and investment in the technology necessary for compliance with such a mandate," DIRECTV said of the four-year phased-in approach for HD locals.