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FCC Considering DTV Initiatives

May 5, 2003  •  Post A Comment

In an effort to spur the digital TV rollout, the Federal Communications Commission last week announced the launch of a series of investigations to determine whether new regulatory initiatives may be needed to get the industry’s attention on the issue.
Among the key inquiries, according to the FCC, will be an inquiry to determine how broadcasters are using the flexibility the agency granted them to deliver a mix of high-definition, multicasting and other services.
“Are they using it to make intensive use of their valuable digital spectrum to provide a rich mix of digital programming to consumers?” FCC Chairman Michael Powell said in an April 29 letter to Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., and other lawmakers. “Or are they using it to do the minimum amount of programming possible-a single stream of standard-definition programming-and permitting much of their digital spectrum to lie fallow?”
In his letter to the lawmakers, Mr. Powell also said the agency will investigate broadcast-industry allegations that many cable operators are refusing to carry the digital signals of local broadcasters.
Yet another inquiry will seek to determine whether regulatory intervention is needed to ensure that the DTV tuners consumer electronics manufacturers install in DTV sets meet desired performance standards.
In addition, Chairman Powell said the FCC will consider recommending additional steps the industry can take to publicize DTV technology.
“I share your strong commitment to bringing the digital television transition to a rapid and successful conclusion for the benefit of the American people,” Mr. Powell said in his letter to the lawmakers.
At deadline, representatives of the National Association of Broadcasters and the National Cable & Telecommunications Association had no comment.
A spokesperson for the Consumer Electronics Association said, “CEA is opposed to mandatory receiver standards, and we remain committed to working with all DTV-related industries and policymakers to ensure that DTV consumers have the best and highest-quality DTV reception.”