High court upholds 'must-carry' rules

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The U.S. Supreme Court in a 5-4 vote ruled constitutional the "must carry" rules that Congress approved to force cable TV systems to carry local broadcast TV stations. The decision was a victory for the National Association of Broadcasters and a big loss for cable channels that had hoped to gain access to cable systems if cable operators were freed to drop lightly viewed broadcast TV stations. The decision ensures that advertisers that buy local market TV stations really can reach cable viewers, but it could have the opposite effect long term. It is likely to increase the pressure on cable system operators to spend billions to add new channel capacity and compete with satellite services that, as a result of the decision, are certain to have many more national channels.

Copyright March 1997, Crain Communications Inc.

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