Affiliates, NAB Say No HD Downconversion

Affiliates of ABC, CBS, Fox and NBC have written a joint letter to Congress expressing their opposition to proposed legislation that would allow cable operators to downconvert HD signals.
The measure before the Senate Commerce Committee is part of a telecom reform package would permit cable firms to convert DTV to analog, and HD to SD until 2014. Broadcasters have no problem with the digital-to-analog conversion on a temporary basis.

But in a May 26 letter to committee Chairman Ted Stevens (R-Alaska), local stations called for changes to the HD downconversion segment because they believe "it condones viewer disenfranchisement from HDTV services" by allowing cable to intentionally degrade HD quality. The letter also underscores that, as the legislation is written, a cable operator could downgrade broadcast-owned HD content and not cable-owned HD channel.

Local broadcasters also have some other problems with the pending legislation, but they signaled that HD downconversion is the most immediate. The item could come up for Senate Commerce Committee consideration on June 20.