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Coalition urges Congress to require DTV multicast, compensate consumers

The Coalition for Smart Digital TV Transition called on Congress to address compensating consumers for digital-to-analog set-top boxes, require cable operators to carry DTV multicast signals and provide consumer education about the transition in pending DTV legislation. At a briefing on Capitol Hill, the coalition urged lawmakers to:

  • Take steps to provide consumers with compensation for digital-to-analog converter boxes so they can continue to watch TV on their “plain old television sets” after discontinuation of analog TV transmission.
  • Require cable operators to carry the digital multicast signals of television broadcasters.

“Inclusion of multicast must carry language in final bills will prevent cable from stripping out valuable multicast programming and will ensure that elderly, rural and minority residents will not be deprived of access to vital information,” said Alliance for Rural Television spokesperson Larry Mitchell.

Local news, sports and weather are all being considered for — and in some cases are currently being carried on — DTV multicast channels. Recently, the DTV channels of broadcasters in several markets have been used to retransmit coverage of Hurricane Katrina by local New Orleans broadcasters.

The cable industry to date has resisted any legislative efforts to force operators to carry DTV multicast signals.

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