04.27.2004 12:00 AM
Digital Transition Coalition Pushes Move to DTV
The Digital Transition Coalition has organized to push for the return of analog TV channels by December 31, 2006, the "immediate redeployment of the analog spectrum dedicated for public safety access nationwide" and reauctioning of the reclaimed analog spectrum by the FCC no later than December 31, 2007. To achieve these goals, the Coalition will seek to "foster the immediate availability of the network DTV signals to all consumers nationwide."

The press release announcing formation of the Coalition listed EchoStar Communications Corporation, Council for Citizens Against Government Waste, Americans for Tax Reform, Frontiers of Freedom, Media Access Project, Public Knowledge and the Small Business Survival Committee as members. As previously reported in RF Report, EchoStar has pushed for delivery of distant network DTV programming into local DTV "white" areas and Citizens Against Government Waste has lobbied for expeditious return of the analog TV broadcast spectrum.

George Landrith, President of Frontiers of Freedom, explained why the Coalition was organized. "Congress took an important step towards ensuring a digital future when they mandated that broadcasters provide a digital signal on par with their analog service by 2002. Unfortunately, we are now almost two years past that deadline and more than 60% of television stations have still not met that obligation. We have come together as taxpayer groups, consumer advocates and technology leaders to fight for policies which will finally make the transition a reality,"

Tom Schatz, President of the Council for Citizens Against Government Waste, elaborated, "The American public is demanding access to more digital programming, which represents the future of technology, and lawmakers need to give the industry the tools to deliver that programming. Rural Americans in particular have been left out of the digital revolution by their local broadcasters and its time for another solution."

The Digital Transition Coalition web site lists four plans for speeding the transition and provides links to Web sites for more information on the plan. The Satellite Industry Plan gets top billing and the web site, www.IWantMyHDTV.com, is also listed in the press release as the Coalition's web site to provide information on the campaign to speed up the transition. Other plans listed include the FCC Media Bureau Plan, and the Public Broadcasters Plan.

Aside from the rapid return of the analog spectrum, after reading the web site the immediate goal of the Coalition appears to be obtain Congressional approval for satellite providers to import distant network DTV signals into areas where some local network DTV signals are not present. See RF Report for April 5, 2004 for a report on this SHVIA debate. Except for a reference to digital cable must carry in the Public Broadcasters Plan, the topic was not discussed in the Coalition's press release or on the web site.

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