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Fritts lauds ATSC for advancements, calls lack of commission digital carriage action ‘failure’

Speaking before the ATSC annual membership meeting March 30, NAB CEO & president Edward Fritts told his audience that the transition to digital television is “about consumers” and that the consumer electronics, cable and television industries must “try even harder” to cooperate to ensure interoperability.

While commending the efforts of cable and TV set makers to date in advancing interoperability, Fritts said that DTV cable carriage remains an obstacle. “We feel that despite the FCC's good efforts in a number of areas, the Commission has failed to take action on digital carriage for all these many years,” he said. “The end result is that the cable gatekeepers continue to deny free high-definition and other digital programming from being available to consumers in the 70 percent of households that subscribe to cable. That, my friends, is not good public policy.” Fritts commended the ATSC on its technical successes and emphasized that broadcasters must provide “services that exploit all the advantages of over-the-air transmission.”

“For example, ATSC's work on a standard for distributed transmission is commendable,” he said. “This idea of synchronized multiple transmitters has the potential to help increase the reliability of the over-the-air broadcast service. Another example is the proposed ATSC standard on Enhanced VSB transmission, which offers a way to get broadcast signals to places and devices that just won't be possible with 8VSB transmission.

“These standards, which are optional and voluntary, will help strengthen the over-the-air broadcast service. With judicious implementation, they will do so in a way that complements — not threatens — existing HDTV, multichannel and data broadcasting offerings.”

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