Powell's folly

Our fearless FCC chairman, like his two predecessors, has fallen into the bad habit of blaming the wrong guys for the DTV “problem.”

First, broadcasters were blamed for DTV''''s failure. Now, Powell and his FCC minions have decided the problem with DTV is that TV sets don''''t have digital tuners. The “solution” is therefore to just require that all new sets made have digital tuners.

Let''''s check the math. There are about 99 million TV homes and maybe one million DTV sets out there (and that''''s optimistic). Suppose we sell another three million sets next year and that those sets can receive a DTV signal. Why, that brings the DTV penetration up to a whopping 4 percent! Wow! Some TV stations have higher audience ratings when they''''re off the air!

This means that with Mr. Powell''''s mandated DTV tuner plan, maybe in 10 years, when most of the current sets have been retired, we might have 30 percent DTV penetration. Ask yourself how this bureaucrat can justify forcing expensive DTV tuners into new sets when 70 percent of the audience will never use them. The only thing I can figure out is that maybe he owns Zenith stock.

The solution to the DTV dilemma, Mr. Powell, as my readers well know, is for you and your fellow commissioners to develop spines and require the cable industry to become a partner to DTV. Without that action, DTV is DOA and everyone knows it.

I find it very interesting how Mr. Powell can respond when he smells a real political opportunity. Two shock jocks, Opie and Anthony, from WNEW-FM recently urged listeners to have sex in unusual places. The jocks might have gotten away with the broadcast if Brian Florence and Loretta Lynn-Harper hadn''''t been arrested for allegedly having sex in St. Patrick''''s Cathedral as a part of the show. A station employee broadcasting their act was also arrested.

Upon hearing of the broadcast, Chairman Powell immediately ordered an investigation. Another commissioner suggested the FCC consider revoking the station''''s license. All this FCC activity was based on one teeny, albeit objectionable, event. However, when it comes to providing leadership to resolve a decade-old issue, apparently Chairman Powell has yet to pick up on the correct political scent.

Mr. Chairman, mandate DTV cable must-carry on the same schedule as broadcasters and you''''ll solve the DTV dilemma almost overnight. The result of such action will be consumers flocking to DTV. Broadcasters will more quickly build their new DTV systems. The TV set makers will sell more products, creating new investment and more viewers. And you will become a hero to Congress — and the consumer.

So, Mr. Powell, pretend you''''re like your dad. Stand up and kick some (cable) butt.

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