09.21.2004 10:30 AM
NAB, MSTV caution commission against hasty analog OTA switch-off

The National Association of Broadcasters and the Association for Maximum Service Television in reply comments filed with the FCC warned the commission that it must proceed with caution in advancing analog switch-off, otherwise it "risks disenfranchising millions of viewers’ who rely on over-the-air (OTA) broadcasting for television."

The reply comments, filed Sept. 7, are in response to a commission proceeding examining the potential impact of an early switch-off of analog television transmission.

In their joint comments, the associations recognized the demand for broadcast spectrum that will be reclaimed after analog switch-off but contended that without low-cost, widely available set-top boxes to convert digital transmissions to an NTSC analog signal that viewers with legacy TVs could watch, millions who rely upon OTA television would lose access to news, information and emergency alerts.

According to the reply comments, there are 73 million OTA television sets in use in the United States and 20.3 million households that receive only OTA television signals.

The associations pointed to the importance of television in alerting the public to emergencies and pointed to the success of television coverage of Hurricane Charley in saving lives.

One of the central issues on which the commission sought comments was the impact of accelerating the transition by allowing cable households to be counted toward the 85 percent DTV penetration threshold required for analog switch-off.

For more information, visit www.nab.org/Newsroom/PressRel/Filings/OTAReplies9704.pdf.

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