Quello: PPV free TV’s ‘enemy’

Claiming that pay-per-view is “inherently a natural enemy of free TV,” FCC commissioner James Quello predicted Tuesday that government will continue to resist a shift in top-shelf programming from over-the-air to pay TV.

Quello, who this week stepped aside as interim chairman of the Federal Communications Commission to make way for new chairman Reed Hundt, made his remarks at the Assn. for Maximum Service Television’s annual HDTV Update confab.

Quello conceded there is a “growing place” for pay-per-view.

However, he said, “I don’t believe Congress or … the FCC will tolerate pay-per-view siphoning from free TV major sports or civic events that are imbedded in the fabric of American life.”

The FCC commish warned that major growth in PPV could allow “economic ‘haves’ (to) lock out the ‘have nots,’ ” which he said is “not the overall public interest at work in a democracy.”

“Long-term profit potential for pay-per-view may be too overwhelming to resist and probably requires continual government scrutiny,” said Quello.

Quello also criticized the U.S. Telephone Assn.’s recent decision to oppose must-carry protection for broadcasters.

USTA made its must-carry opposition known in a legal brief filed before the Supreme Court, which next year is expected to rule on the constitutionality of a law requiring cable TV operators to carry most local TV stations.

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