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RealTime IT News

AOL Lobbies for License to Carry Local TV Stations

Internet service providers are attempting to persuade Congress to let them carry local television station signals over their networks.

According to the Wall Street Journal, America Online Inc. (AOL) and iBEAM Broadcasting are two of the companies asking congressional representatives to revise their wording on the Satellite Television Act of 1999.

The bill originally stated that "other communications channels" could apply for licenses to carry local TV signals, suggesting that ISPs might also be included. But the current version worked out by House and Senate conferees specifically eliminated digital online-communication services.

Big league ISPs are pressuring Congress to get the provision changed back to the original language. To do so they must persuade House members on the conference committee to adjust the language approving the legislation. Senate members who have already approved the bill could be forced to adopt the language change, should ISP lobbying efforts prevail.

Washington insiders said that the ISP's the lobbying effort is a long shot because the bill was never meant to apply to the Internet. The bill was meant to allow for satellite television companies to compete with cable services by supporting local television programming.

According to industry analysts ISPs don't stand much of a chance of revising the bill because congressional leaders' don't have a handle on regulating converging technologies like cable, satellite and Internet broadcasting.