NRB-Commissioned Report Bolsters Case for Must Carry

According to a study commissioned by NRB, suggestions that pay-TV providers have a capacity problem with carrying Christian TV stations “lack credibility.” NRB has highlighted the longstanding community responsibility of cable and satellite platforms to carry local TV, including religious broadcasters, and this report further underlines how sound and unobtrusive that “Must Carry” duty is. 

The study, which NRB joined the National Association of Broadcasters and the National Black Religious Broadcasters in commissioning, looked in depth at technological advances for cable and satellite networks. Telecommunications engineer Steve Crowley delved into the continuing innovation and enhancement in such areas as video compression, digital modulation, and amplifiers.  He concluded:

[A]ny suggestions of technology-based capacity constraints that allegedly limit cable and satellite companies' ability to continue offering existing and new TV program channels lack credibility. On the contrary, the advances described in this report indicate that the vast majority of pay television services will encounter few technical obstacles to increasing their program-carrying capacity for the foreseeable future.

In December, legislation was introduced that would strike a number of provisions from federal communications law, including sections that establish the responsibility of pay-TV providers to carry local TV stations on their platforms. NRB was quick to voice its concern that Congress not renege on its decades-old commitment to local television, particularly religious television. Dr. Jerry A. Johnson, President & CEO of NRB, declared, “Scuttling the local channel carriage responsibilities of cable and other pay-TV platforms would be a significant detriment to a number of Christian TV stations and the viewers who rely on them for spiritual guidance.”

“Must Carry” rules honoring free, local television were enacted by Congress in 1992 and upheld by the Supreme Court in 1997. 

By Aaron Mercer, Vice President of Government Relations

Published: January 17, 2014