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09.27.2004
Originally featured on BroadcastEngineering.com
Thirty-nine million U.S. households can’t get complete DTV service


The Digital Transition Coalition has issued state maps, using FCC data, that illustrate the coverage of digital signals across the nation. Pictured here is New Jersey, showing where some consumers can't receive a signal.

The Digital Transition Coalition (DTC), a group of consumer organizations, said that contrary to the claims of the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB), tens of millions of Americans are still unable to receive one or more of their local network stations in digital mode.

To support its claim, the coalition released state-by-state maps, using FCC data, which illustrates the current (as of July 2004) coverage of digital signals across the nation. The coalition hired Primus Geographics to demonstrate the exact extent of the digital transition.

The DTC said it has been clear to most observers that the transition is lagging and the maps prove that. George Landrith of Frontiers of Freedom, a member of the Digital Transition Coalition, said that the analysis paints a stark picture of the digital transition in the U.S.

The group said congress could make a difference right away by approving the digital white area provisions contained in the Senate Commerce Committee’s recent satellite legislation. If local broadcasters fail to provide a network digital signal, then satellite providers should be allowed to do so, Landrith said.

The NAB, together with the Association for Maximum Service Television, submitted its filing to the FCC’s Media Bureau in a proceeding where the bureau is examining the effects of the digital transition on over the air broadcast television viewers. In its filing, the NAB said that broadcasters have met the challenge of the conversion to DTV, and that the transmission side of the DTV equation has been built. The DTC’s maps, along with its written response, call these claims into question.

Nineteen percent of households (more than 20 million) are receiving digital service from only three digital network broadcasters; 5.8 percent of households (more than 6 million) are receiving digital service from only two digital network broadcasters; 6.2 percent of households (more than 6 million) are receiving digital service from only one digital network broadcaster; and nationwide, 36.1 percent of households (more than 39 million) couldn't receive digital service from at least one of the network broadcasters.

To download the DTC’s coverage maps, visit: www.iwantmyhdtv.com. For more information, visit: www.digitaltransitioncoalition.org.

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