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06.05.2005
Originally featured on BroadcastEngineering.com
Broadcasters back grass roots DTV group

The banner sounds good: “Help Millions of Americans Keep Their Access to Free, Local Television.” Even so, the Coalition for a Smart Digital TV Transition looks more like a group of unions than a genuine consumer-focused group. The group is pushing for additional public and congressional input into the transition to DTV.

Coalition membership includes all the key broadcast-related unions: International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers; International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees; and the National Association of Broadcast Employees and Technicians-Communications Workers of America.

Other union or worker’s groups include: the National Farmers Organization; the National Farmers Union; the National Grange; the Soybean Producers of America; and Women Involved in Farm Economics.

Three broadcast-related groups are listed as members: Board of Governors of the FOX Affiliates, CBS Television Network Affiliates Association, and NBC Television Affiliates. However, what is noticeably absent are the real power brokers: the NAB, and the actual national networks like NBC, ABC, FOX and CBS.

The organization’s Web site is full of dire predictions about DTV conversion, stating that millions of Americans lose access to free, over-the-air television programming as the government forces broadcasters to transmit only in a digital format. The site notes that when the conversion happens, millions of older TV sets will no longer work unless viewers buy additional equipment or services.

Not selective, the group also takes a few pot shots at cable, saying that even cable viewers won’t get all the new broadcast services if cable isn’t required to perform must-carry, although the group avoids that lightning rod. The bottom line, at least according to the group’s website, “…all American consumers will lose as they try to figure out why they can’t watch their favorite programs without spending more money on television.”

For more information, visit www.smartdigitaltvtransition.com.

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