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Why can broadcast TV stations charge for carriage of their signals?

Broadcast TV stations distribute their signals over the air, they use a free spectrum granted to them by the federal government. These same broadcast TV stations are then allowed by the government to charge for their signals.

altafiber pays these broadcasters, a fee per channel, per month, per customer for the right to provide that programming service or channel to its customers. If we do not pay the fees that are required of the broadcasters, they can force us to remove their channels from our lineup.