CEA Urges Broadcasters to Promote DTV on Analog Channels and in Program Listings

The Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) told the FCC last week that said broadcasters and cable companies need to do more to support the DTV transition. In comments filed in response the FCC's Notice of Inquiry on the status of competition in the video programming delivery market, the association said it "conducts numerous programs to increase public knowledge about the DTV transition and broadcast reception in particular, and now is the time for broadcasters to increase their efforts as well by running public service announcements (PSAs) and similar promotions. Cable operators, for their part, must support digital cable ready (DCR) integrated television sets with adequate stocks of CableCARDS to provide a seamless viewing experience for new digital viewers."

CEA said the sales of DTV products is increasing rapidly, noting that based on its factory-to-U.S.-dealer shipment data, 9.5 millions TV households have at least one digital television set or monitor and approximately 1.3 million of these have over-the-air DTV broadcast reception capability. CEA noted that they expected the percentage of DTV sets with this capability to increase steadily because digital cable-ready (DCR) sets that include terrestrial DTV reception are entering the market in volume and FCC DTV tuner requirements have now taken effect for larger screen sizes.

"The uptake on digital products is strong, but competition in the market for delivery of video programming will be strengthened if the digital broadcast channels are promoted more aggressively, both during analog broadcasts and in TV program listings, and broadcast stations fully construct their facilities to reach all the viewers of their analog signal with a digital signal," CEA told the commission.

This information was obtained from the CEA press release.

A much more detailed discussion is contained in the Comments of the Consumer Electronics Association on MB Docket 04-227 filed with the FCC and available on the FCC's Search for Filed Comments web page. In its comments, the CEA said HDTV programming drives the DTV broadcast transition.

These comments were filed before the latest version of the SHVIA extension legislation was released (see last week's RF Report). CEA said it supported legislation to allow transmission of major broadcast network signals by satellite providers into unserved areas.

"Under the channel allotment scheme adopted by the Commission to facilitate the broadcast DTV transition, viewers who receive a station's analog signal should be able to receive that same station's digital signal, provided that the station uses the full digital facilities permitted by the FCC," CEA told the FCC. "However, most commercial broadcasters are using less power than authorized for their digital signals and in too many cases cover only a portion of their stations' analog service areas. As a consequence, many consumers nationwide can receive a station's analog signal but not the station's digital signal. Many other consumers are receiving less-than-optimum reception because DTV tuners were designed to operate with full power signals. By the Commission's own figures, a majority of the stations on the air with digital signals today continue to use facilities that provide less coverage than their analog signals.16 With millions of DTV tuners entering the marketplace in response to the FCC's rules, it is more imperative than ever that the Commission ensure that all broadcasters are on their permanent digital channels and operating their digital stations at full power by no later than January 1, 2006."