DIRECTV Fights Dual-Carriage for DBS

Should satellite TV adhere to dual-carriage regulations?

The Federal Communications Commission has asked for comment as to whether DBS companies should carry the signals of all local broadcast stations in high-def and standard definition if they deliver the signals of any local station in the same market in either format. In its comments on the matter, DIRECTV urged the agency not to adopt a dual-carriage regime for small dish services.

In its filing at the FCC, DIRECTV said a dual carriage requirement for DBS "would impose an inordinate burden on satellite carriers, preempting carriage of other programming and mandating an extremely inefficient use of valuable spectrum resources." The company said the FCC "should not adopt such a constitutionally suspect regime."

The FCC inquiry into a dual-carriage provision came after the agency adopted rules that require satellite TV services to carry all local high-def signals in the markets they serve with local HD broadcasts. The regulations offer some flexibility, allowing DBS services to implement a HD carry-one, carry-all effort within four years after the nation's transition to digital TV.

And the commission's effort came after it mandated a dual-carriage regime for cable. DIRECTV said a dual carriage requirement "has dramatically different effects for satellite carriers as compared to cable operators. The burden of such carriage is much higher, while the rationales that could justify such carriage are very attenuated at best," the company said.