FCC Chairman Michael K. Powell issues statements about digital television
FCC Chairman Michael K. Powell issued the following statement on July 11:
The next year may prove to be a watershed for the digital television transition.
In April I challenged several industries to take specific steps to move the DTV transition forward. The plan challenged major broadcast and cable networks to create more compelling digital content, equipment manufacturers to produce more television sets with digital tuners, and broadcasters, cable operators and satellite providers to make digital content more accessible to consumers.
Virtually every industry – cable, broadcast and satellite – has either fully embraced my plan, or made real commitments to advance the transition. I deeply appreciate these efforts. As a result of these commitments, many of the key elements of the digital television transition are beginning to fall into place. As these industries innovate for the digital future, consumers across the country will benefit with super sharp television pictures and even more entertainment and educational choices.
I commend the cable industry’s 10 largest operators, which serve more than 85% of subscribers nationwide, for their significant commitments to make digital programming available to consumers in the markets they serve. They will deploy integrated set-top boxes capable of displaying high definition programming and offer to carry, at no cost, up to five broadcast or other digital programming services.
DBS providers are also prepared to carry up to five digital programming services providing high-definition or other “value-added” digital programming by January 1, 2003.
On the content side, ABC, CBS, HBO and Showtime have made strong commitments to provide consumers with a wide range of high-definition programming. Others, including Discovery, HDNet and PBS, should also be recognized for the high definition content they are providing consumers. NBC is moving in the right direction by significantly increasing its high-definition programming during prime-time and late-night. I am optimistic that Fox will develop “value-added programming” that will take advantage of the entire digital broadcast spectrum they have received.
I am encouraged that the great majority of top four network affiliates in the 100 largest markets will be on the air by next January with the ability to pass through the networks’ digital signal without degradation. The missing piece of the DTV puzzle is the consumer electronics industry. We have not yet received a final response from the manufacturers on the phased-in inclusion of DTV tuners in new sets. I hope they will join their industry colleagues and come forward with real and tangible commitments to advance the transition.
Chairman Powell issued the following statement on July 12:
The CE industry’s response on DTV tuners is so limited, and loaded down with so many conditions, that I believe it amounts to no commitment at all. Not only does the CE industry demand that certain issues be resolved before they will act, they demand they be resolved to their satisfaction. Other industries could have made similar demands. Thankfully, they did not. I hope that the CE industry will reconsider its position and join with its industry colleagues in the effort to make progress today while we continue to work on issues that will take longer to resolve.
I commend Zenith for its courage in publicly supporting a phased-in tuner requirement and the persuasive case it makes for why such a requirement will benefit consumers.
Note: copies of letters from participating industries, detailing their initiatives, are available at www.fcc.gov.