[opendtv] FCC issues changes for switch to digital television

  • From: "Manfredi, Albert E" <albert.e.manfredi@xxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: <opendtv@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Wed, 2 Jan 2008 16:23:48 -0500

Interesting idea, to allow analog stations to shutdown before 17 Feb
2009. Although history has shown that most broadcasters are not likely
to take such action of their own accord, unless they feel like they have
no OTA audience anyway.

I agree with Commissioner Copps that a market-by-market approach would
have been easier to swallow. Maybe this new latitude will help.

Bert

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FCC issues changes for switch to digital television

K.C. Jones
(01/02/2008 11:38 AM EST)
URL: http://www.eetimes.com/showArticle.jhtml?articleID=205207178

The Federal Communications Commission has announced rule changes to give
broadcasters more flexibility in switching from analog to digital
television.

The FCC announced changes on New Year's Eve. Under the new rules,
broadcasters would be allowed to phase out or end their analog signals
before the Feb. 17, 2009, deadline. The FCC also announced, in its third
periodic review of the transition plans, that it will begin issuing
coupons to help consumers pay for converter boxes.

"The commission has made technical adjustments to its rules and policies
to enable broadcasters to take the actions necessary to complete the
conversion from analog to digital," FCC Commissioner Kevin Martin said
in a statement. "As all major changes tend to be, the coming transition
to digital television transmission is an exciting -- but complicated --
revolution. The rules we adopt in this item attempt to provide
broadcasters the flexibility they need while at the same time ensuring
that any disruption to over-the-air viewers is minimized to the fullest
extent possible."

The commission will require broadcasters to provide progress updates in
February and October.

"The commission will review this information, assess the progress toward
meeting the transition, and take whatever actions are necessary to
ensure that the digital transition remains on track," Martin said. "It
is by taking concrete steps to advance this transition that we can
ensure that the broadcast spectrum is made available as soon as possible
for critically important public safety needs and broadband wireless
uses."

Commissioner Michael Copps criticized the timing of the move.

"One year earlier would have been the charm," he said. "Sometimes timing
is everything, and here a year's earlier start might have been the
difference between a seamless and a chaotic digital TV transition. Had
we acted then, we could have established a far more measured and orderly
switch-over process, and the difficult trade-offs and compressed
schedules contained in this order could have been largely avoided. If a
dissent could legitimately be based on frustration at being stuck in
this situation, I would dissent today -- I am that frustrated by our
inaction."

Copps said that since the FCC was "stuck," the order "does an acceptable
job of balancing the various technical and policy factors in play.

"Unfortunately, at this point, the transition will not be as smooth as
it might have been," he said in a statement. "Not every consumer will
have access to all of their analog broadcast channels on Feb. 17, 2009.
and then wake up happily the next morning to those same stations in
digital. There will be some period of time -- perhaps before the
transition date and almost certainly after -- in which some stations may
not be able to provide service to all of their viewers."

Copps said that it is "unfathomable" that the government will block
every analog signal in the United States at once without testing the
plans. He said other countries, like the United Kingdom and Germany, are
making the switch in a more cautious way, going region-by-region over a
period of several years.

"The lessons learned from those initial test markets doubtless will
prove invaluable to those countries' broader transition efforts," he
said. "We need some of that real-world experience here. Why in the world
aren't we doing that? I am encouraged that the chairman and my
colleagues are willing to sit down now and begin exploring the idea of
one or more DTV demonstration projects around the country. I recognize
there may be legal, technical, and practical challenges with planning
and conducting such a test this close to the national transition date.
But I believe it can be done. At least -- for the sake of a successful
DTV transition -- let's hope it can."

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