More Positioning on Locals Before FCC Meet

As the Federal Communications Commission prepares for its open meeting Wednesday, in which the agency will take up issues tied to the delivery of digital broadcast signals via satellite, DIRECTV was busy making its case on the matter at the Portals.

At issue is whether satellite TV should be required to deliver local broadcast signals for all 210 of the nation's DMAs, as requested by broadcasters. In a FCC filing released Monday, DIRECTV said while such universal access to broadcast content is good public policy, "it should be incumbent upon the broadcasters themselves to deliver that programming over the air to as many consumers as possible.

"They do not do so today, apparently preferring instead to ask the government to force others to extend their reach," stated the filing.

DIRECTV stated in its filing that small dish companies operate with limited spectrum resources, and that any carriage mandate involves trade-offs. The money, capacity and other resources dedicated to an expanded local TV effort "would be unavailable for other uses, such as expanding high definition programming, enhancing interactive services and increasing the richness and diversity of DIRECTV's offering in general," the company said.

The DBS giant said it has invested billions of dollars to retransmit local signals, including signals in HD format, to as many DMAs as possible.

"It would be one thing to mandate ubiquitous local service via satellite in a hypothetical world of unlimited and costless satellite capacity," DIRECTV said. "Given the trade-offs necessary in the real world, however, requiring satellite operators to provide transport for broadcasters to viewers they are unable or unwilling to serve themselves would be far more problematic."

At its meeting Wednesday, it's expected the commission will consider rules that would require a carry-one, carry-all mandate for satellite TV delivery of high-def locals into served markets.