Broadcast and consumer electronics lobbyists want more

Both Gary Shapiro and Eddie Fritts were giddy after the FCC’s unanimous 5-0 ruling approving technical standards that promise to ease the daunting hookup problems between a new generation of digital TV sets and cable television systems.

Shapiro, head of the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA), and Fritts, head of the National Association Broadcasters (NAB), think the new rules will speed up the sluggish transition to digital television.

Shapiro was so excited that he used the word “historic” to describe the FCC ruling. “History books will mark this as a momentous day in the U.S. transition to digital television,” he said. “That sound you hear is the excited rumblings of millions of consumers preparing to join the HDTV era now that plug and play is a reality.”

Fritts praised the FCC, not only for easing cable hookups, but “particularly for insisting that digital TV tuners with over-the-air reception capability be included in digital ‘cable-ready’ television receivers.”

The built-in tuner mandate, passed last year by the FCC, was opposed by the CEA, who said it is a costly, unnecessary and unwanted frill in an era when most consumers get their television from subscription services.

“Step by step, the commission is resolving roadblocks that have delayed the transition from analog to digital television,” said Fritts. “The time is ripe for the FCC to complete the loop by adopting cable carriage rules ensuring consumer access to the 1,000 digital broadcast stations on- the-air and serving their communities.”

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