Industry Updates FCC on State of DTV

In a rush to beat an FCC comment deadline, major groups interested in DTV and the spectrum broadcasters use have weighed in, again, on the issue.

NAB and the Association for Maximum Service Television (MSTV), in joint comments, said the FCC should:
* Establish a channel election deadline of May 1,2005;
* Prohibit broadcasters from swapping their DTV and analog channel allotments;
* Establish a "use-it-or-lose-it" replication and maximization deadline that coincides with the end of the DTV transition;
* Not require broadcasters awaiting FCC action on applications to broadcast under Special Temporary Authority;
* Eliminate DTV simulcasting requirements, allowing more programming flexibility;
* Allow a more lenient phase-in of DTV in smaller markets
* Permit satellite stations to "flash cut" to DTV on their analog channels.
* Ensure significant numbers of consumers are not left without broadcast television when analog service ends.

But a lot of that is details. Paxson Communications Corp., on the other hand, attacked the cable industry, ridiculing its claims that its own investments are somehow helping the digital transition.

The key to the DTV Holy Grail, Paxson said, is multicasting and the cable carrige thereof.

"If the FCC encourages multicasting to the same extent it has promoted HDTV-primarily by enacting multicast must-carry-the DTV transition will likely end much sooner than anyone has heretofore hoped," Paxson wrote.

Other companies want the transition to end for different reasons. Motorola Inc. told the FCC that the band now used for analog TV, notably the higher channels above 700 MHz, are sorely needed for public-safety and other purposes.

Motorola called for industries and Congress to work together to choose a near-term "date-certain" for the recovery of the analog spectrum.