Another taxpayer DTV bailout?

Belo, owner of 19 television stations in Dallas, Tex., has suggested to the FCC that perhaps the taxpayers should make another contribution to the struggling DTV transition.

DTV would get a boost, contends Belo, if tax credits are made available to consumer electronics manufacturers who provide low-cost converters that can translate analog TV signals to digital. This way, the electronics industry could move faster to digital home receivers without worry that viewers would lose access to analog programming.

In an Oct. 24 FCC filing, Belo contended such industry tax credits would represent a “safety net” to insure completion of the DTV transition “without disenfranchising American viewers.”

Such tax credits, the amount of which were not estimated by Belo, would be in addition to the free grant of publicly-owned digital spectrum made in 1996 to broadcasters by Congress. That spectrum has been estimated to be worth as much as $74 billion.

Belo also proposes that the FCC require that cable operators carry all of a station’s digital and analog signals‚ “including HD and multiple standard definition digital signals‚” until analog transmission ceases in the future.

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