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Letís Preserve Local Television Broadcast Stations
Letter sent to newspaper editors in Los Angeles by Paul Crouch Jr., Vice President of Administration: KTBN Channel 40.
Local broadcast stations are still very important to local communities as viewers continue to seek programming that is relevant to their lives. Although some may believe that broadcast television is outdated, there are still many families in the Los Angeles and Orange County area that rely heavily on their local stations for valuable information such as local news, weather and sports, as well as religious and family programming. KTBN has always been committed to providing communities with locally produced faith-based and public affairs programming that meets an important need with the viewers.
The advent of digital technology has given broadcast television stations the ability to compress their channel so that they can use the same space to air six channels of programming. This process is called “multicasting” and the ability to “multicast” will be critical to the survival of broadcast stations following the transition to digital.
KTBN has already begun to use this new digital multicast technology to broadcast four networks at once over one channel. Currently KTBN Channel 40 is airing TBN, The Church Channel, JCTV and TBN Enlace. These four networks are available right now to anyone who has a digital television with an over-the-air antenna.
Congress is currently working on a new bill for digital television that will mandate that all television stations cease broadcasting in the old analog technology and broadcast in the new digital format. Broadcasters have asked congress to add language in the bill that would require cable companies to carry all of a station’s multiple digital channels that are being multicast. The cable companies are against the idea of adding all of the station’s multicast signals. Even though it will not take any more space than the old analog channel the cable companies refuse to carry the others and plan to only carry one channel.
It is believed that the cable companies hope to use the space allocated for the broadcaster’s multicast channels for their own cable networks. The problem here is that the cable viewers will be deprived of all of the channels a broadcaster sends out. The cable companies plan to block the airing of these multicast feeds and replace them with their own cable channels. These other channels might not be appropriate for families or children and may include adult channels or other inappropriate networks.
It is critical that the new Digital TV bill add a multicast must carry requirement in order to insure that all multicast channels be carried on cable. It will also help to level the playing field so that small independent and religious stations, such as KTBN, can survive in digital television. This is of critical importance because major broadcast networks such NBC, CBS, and ABC are already securing carriage of their additional channels and KTBN simply lacks the leverage. Thus, while others are securing carriage for up to six channels of programming, KTBN has not been able to get guaranteed carriage of its four networks.
KTBN is not alone. There are several other independent, ethnic and religious broadcasters in this area that cannot obtain carriage for new digital channels. “Multicast Must-carry” is the only means for ensuring the ability of the independent, ethnic and religious broadcasters to get their new multicast channels carried on cable.
As Congress works to introduce digital television legislation in the upcoming weeks, it is my hope that the federal government will codify multicast must-carry to ensure the survival of small, independent and religious broadcast stations. Without it, stations like KTBN will be severely disadvantaged. There are a number of legislators and others in government such as the FCC Chairman that have publicly supported “multicast must-carry”. This is why it is important for other legislators to be contacted to ensure that local stations, particularly those that are independent and not affiliated with a major media conglomerate, will survive the federally mandated transition to digital television. Will you please call or write your senators and congressmen today, encouraging their support? You can call the Capital switchboard at 202-224-3121.
Paul Crouch Jr.
Vice President, Administration
KTBN Channel 40
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