CEA encourages Barton to continue on date-certain course

May 18, 2005

The Consumer Electronics Association expressed its support last week in a letter to Congressman Joe Barton (R-TX) for his efforts to enact legislation establishing a hard date to cease analog broadcasting.

Barton, who chairs the House Energy and Commerce Committee, is a proponent of speedy completion of the digital transition, which will free up valuable spectrum currently used for analog TV transmission for other services, such as wireless broadband Internet service.

In the letter to Barton, association president and CEO Gary Shapiro said the chairman is “doing the right thing for our nation in forcing the issue of a hard cut off date for analog broadcasting” because setting a date will generate “positive effects” by moving the process along.

The percentage of U.S. viewers who rely solely on an over the air signal is low and shrinking, Shapiro said. Sixty-eight percent of the 110 million U.S. homes with at least one TV receive a cable signal. Twenty-two percent receive a DBS signal. Three percent receive both cable and DBS. “In total, 87 percent of American homes will have access to cable or satellite (and thus network and local feeds),” he said.

In the letter, Shapiro also made the case that the impact of a date-certain analog shut off would not have an overwhelmingly negative impact on homes with secondary OTA sets. According to CEA research, “the disconnected TVs are shunted to a less used room” and connected to a DVD, VCR, or video game player. At least half of the time they are used for viewing one of those sources.

To read the letter in its entirety, visit www.ce.org.

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