Cablers spin digital to pols

Toppers vow to spend more time lobbying on Capitol Hill

WASHINGTON — Cable programming toppers flocked to Capitol Hill on Wednesday to battle the broadcast industry’s push to write a new reg forcing cablers to carry all digital signals, even if that means six channels per broadcaster.

The who’s who of cable execs met with more than 40 members of Congress after a press briefing. The cable brass said it’s crucial that they step up their lobbying, noting that broadcasters are ahead of them in terms of access to lawmakers.

“We need to spend more time on Capitol Hill telling our story,” A&E Television Networks prexy-CEO Nick Davatzes said.

The cablers represented included AMC Networks, Comedy Central, C-SPAN, Discovery Communications, Fox Family, HBO, Lifetime, Starz Encore Media Group and the Weather Channel.

The National Assn. of Broadcasters had no comment.

NAB prexy-CEO Eddie Fritts and broadcast execs have roundly criticized the Federal Communications Commission for ruling earlier this year that cablers don’t have to carry more than one digital signal per broadcaster. Likewise, cablers don’t have to carry a broadcaster’s analog and digital signal during the transition to digital TV.

Broadcasters are working hard to have that ruling amended.

Cable programmers said Wednesday that the free market should be left to decide the issue, and that it would be unfair to force them off of systems in order to make room for a broadcaster’s programming.