FCC Chairman speaks to MSTV

FCC Chairman Michael Powell told his MSTV audience last week in Washington, D.C. that the state of the DTV transition has greatly improved over the last year with more than 350 stations coming on the air. Powell compared the recent telecom bust to the railroad bust 150 years ago in Britain, where railroads lost 85 percent of its value. At the time, railroads had 2,148 miles of track in Britain. The chairman pointed out that the far majority of track laid in that country occurred after the crash, 21,000 miles by 1910. Powell used that analogy to say that the digital revolution, seemingly stalled by the telecom problems, the dotcom meltdown and DTV rollout pains will pass. He went on to say that the commission is keeping pressure on all segments of the industry to find solutions to clearing the DTV roadblocks.

Powell pointed to the recent commitments made by the four major networks to provide more HD programming. This has the networks and their programming vendors scrambling to provide the necessary HD facilities. He also compared DVDs to DTV, in that movie studios now plan the “extra features” on a DVD upfront, instead of after the fact, and said that DTV will follow this lead. DTV, he said, will change the way stories are written and told.

Powell also pointed to positive signs of the DTV rollout. TV commercials for retailers and manufacturers now specifically target the DTV market; Wal-Mart will now roll out HDTV sets in 1500 stores nationwide; TV listings now denote HD programming; and there is a 77 percent increase in DTV set and monitor sales compared to a year ago. Powell said with regards to our digital future that there is no turning back.

For more information visit www.fcc.gov/Speeches/Powell/2002/spmkp211.html

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