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Will Murdoch campaign contributions influence what you can see on TV?

Reported by Chrish - July 10, 2006 -

Phillip Swann at TVPredictions.com sure seems to think so. He speculates about the timing of Senator Ted Stevens (R-AK) acceptance of significant campaign contributions from Murdoch employees ("nearly 10 percent of the senator's 2005-2006 individual campaign contributions have come from employees of companies owned by Murdoch, such as News Corp., Fox and DIRECTV.") and the Senator's "pushing legislation that could give the Rupert Murdoch owned-DIRECTV a huge advantage over the cable TV industry."

It's not clear why Senate Commerce Committee Chairman Stevens would support this legislation, which would "require cable TV operators to carry all Digital TV signals from local stations; this is known as 'must-carry.'"

"The cable industry wants to only carry the station's primary feed, saying the extra digital signals would take up too much space on their systems. (The primary feed would offer primetime network programming and other regularly scheduled shows; the extra feeds might include special channels for local weather broadcasts and Video on Demand services.)

But Multichannel News' Ted Hearn reports in this week's issue that Stevens has inserted language in the bill that cable operators would have to carry "any digital video signal." The magazine quotes Stevens as saying the new language is intended to impose digital 'must-carry' on the cable operators.

But what about the satellite TV providers, EchoStar and the Murdoch-owned DIRECTV?

Multichannel News reports that Stevens' aides blocked an amendment by Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) that would permit both cable and satellite TV operators to carry just the "primary video" feed rather than "any digital video signal."

Consequently, as Stevens' bill now stands, cable TV operators would be required to carry all local Digital TV signals while DIRECTV and EchoStar would not. If the language becomes law, this would give the satellite TV operators more flexibility in what channels and services they want to offer.

It also could save DIRECTV and EchoStar considerable money because they wouldn't have to create space for the extra channels."

This relationship may help to explain the Senator's impassioned yet nonsensical ramblings about the workings of the Internet, reported on by Marie Therese last Monday. Apparently he doesn't understand the language of the modern communications industry, but money still talks to him.

Don't miss the technical explanation from Wired about what happened to Steven's lost internet.