Tauzin sets September deadline for DTV bill

Jul 22, 2002  •  Post A Comment

Giving the digital television rollout a kick in the pants, Rep. Billy Tauzin, R-La., told industry lobbyists last week that he has directed his staff to draft legislation to expedite the DTV transition.
Under the lawmaker’s plan, the legislation will be introduced in September. The measure will include resolutions of all issues affecting the transition that aren’t subject to industry agreements by that deadline. “Chairman Tauzin has simply drawn a line in the sand: Either you come up with a solution or we will,” said Ken Johnson, the lawmaker’s press secretary.
Among the key issues the legislation will address, Mr. Johnson said, are what sort of obligations cable systems should have to carry broadcast DTV signals and whether to require consumer electronics manufacturers to include DTV receivers in new TV sets. Legislation will also include language addressing the ability of affiliates to carry high-definition feeds from their networks, cable compatibility issues, and how best to ensure that program owners are able to protect their DTV content.
Mr. Johnson said the legislation would be modified as needed to codify industry agreements announced after the measure is introduced.
Representatives of the Consumer Electronics Association and the National Cable & Telecommunications Association were declining comment on the lawmaker’s plans. But industry sources said manufacturers and cable operators appeared to have the most to lose from the measure.
The legislation, if introduced and approved, is important because it could set firm ground rules for a transition that has been stalled for years. A real threat of legislation could also spur the industries to cut deals quickly now to resolve issues that have been impeding the transition.