[opendtv] News: Barton Wants DTV Tuners Sooner

  • From: Craig Birkmaier <craig@xxxxxxxxx>
  • To: OpenDTV Mail List <opendtv@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Wed, 13 Apr 2005 06:13:29 -0400


Barton Wants DTV Tuners Sooner

By Bill McConnell -- Broadcasting & Cable, 4/12/2005 2:50:00 PM

  House Commerce Committee chairman Joe Barton (R-Texas) has been 
keeping the pressure on broadcasters to go all-digital as soon as 
possible. Now he wants TV makers to pitch in, too.

  Tuesday, Barton said he and other committee leaders will ask the FCC 
to accelerate its deadline for mandating that nearly all digital TV 
sets contain tuners capable of receiving stations over-the-air 
digital signals.

  Currently, all DTV sets 13-inches and larger must have the tuners by 
July 1, 2007; Barton now wants the deadline move up to "late 2005 or 
early 2006."

Barton says an accelerated equipment deadline is needed in order for 
broadcasters to go all-digital by Dec. 31, 2006, as current law 
recommends, but does not mandate.

  Unless consumers are better equipped to receive digital signals than 
current trends suggest, there won't be a sufficient digital-ready 
audience to cut off old analog broadcasts, he told the Federal 
Communications Bar Association.

"Right now, we don't think the [broadcast] industry can meet the Dec. 
31, 2006, deadline because the equipment won't be there."

Barton said he is drafting a request for a new tuner deadline with 
his committee's ranking Democrat, John Dingell, and Reps. Fred Upton 
and Ed Markey, the chairman and ranking Democrat, respectively, of 
the House Telecommunications Subcommittee.

In 2002, the FCC approved the tuner mandate, which also required that 
50% of sets 36 inches and larger include DTV receivers by July 1, 
2004, and 100% by July 1, 2005. The digital tuner mandate was 
adamantly opposed by the Consumer Electronics Association, which sued 
to block it, but it was upheld by federal appeals judges, though CEA 
says it now favors accelerating the deadline, saying it could go 
all-tuner by March 2006 if the FCC drops this summer's 50% deadline..

TV makers have manufactured many HDTV models without digital tuners, 
expecting them to be hooked to cable or DVD players and not to an 
over-the-air antenna that will allow viewers to get their local 
broadcasters directly from the stations.

  Consequently, many DTV owners can't watch digital programming 
because the signals aren't yet carried by most cable systems and 
viewers are unable to take advantage of the full range of digital 
services that cable operators aren't necessarily carrying, such as a 
stations' multiple programming streams.
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