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DTV date certain dance picks up the tempo

With the House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Joe Barton planning to introduce legislation to bring the transition to digital television broadcasting to an end, a high-tech alliance has written Congress urging action to establish an analog switch-off date certain.

The High Tech DTV Coalition, which includes Alcatel, Aloha Partners, AT&T, Dell, Cisco Systems, IBM, Intel, Microsoft, Qualcomm, Texas Instruments, T-Mobile, and several trade associations, sent letters to Congress urging the expedited analog switch-off.

It cited five reasons to move forward, including:

  • Promoting growth and protecting U.S. leadership in the high-tech sector;
  • Extending the reach of broadband services to rural and underserved areas;
  • Providing critical spectrum for enhancing public safety communications systems;
  • Providing new, high-quality jobs for U.S. workers;
  • Providing better consumer options by promoting competition.

Outgoing NAB President Edward Fritts responded to the coalition’s call in a letter to Barton, and Representatives Fred Upton, John Dingell and Ed Markley. Fritts said no one would like to see the transition completed more than broadcasters, who have spent billions of dollars to make it happen and continue to foot the tab for dual-, analog-, and digital operation.

Taking aim at the newly formed High Tech DTV Coalition, Fritts said in his letter: "… as a matter of public policy, the corporate financial interests of a handful of technology companies should not trump the needs of American television viewers. Make no mistake: a premature end to analog television could leave millions of Americans without access to free local TV station signals. The harm to these consumers - a disproportionate number of whom come from poor and minority households - must be considered against the purely parochial interests of high-tech companies hoping to profit from new uses of this spectrum."

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