Friday, February 11, 2005

Setback for Hunt Valley-based Sinclair Broadcast

In a setback for Hunt Valley-based Sinclair Broadcast Group Inc. and other broadcasters, federal regulators ruled yesterday that cable companies would not have to carry more than one television signal for every broadcast company - a key ruling as the industry shifts toward digital TV. A digital signal can carry more information without using any more space on the broadcast spectrum. Sinclair and other broadcasters want cable companies to be required to carry six digital channels offered by a local television station - known as multicasting. But the Federal Communications Commission voted 4-1 yesterday to require cable companies to carry one signal for every broadcast company. The lone dissenter, Commissioner Kevin J. Martin, said the ruling will prevent broadcasters from investing in multiple digital programming on cable, giving viewers less choice. In a separate, unanimous vote, the commission said cable companies also wouldn't have to carry both the old analog and new digital stations as television companies make the transition to digital.
Sinclair didn't comment on the FCC decisions during the conference call and didn't return phone calls.

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