Media Bureau tells Commission ‘tremendous progress’ made in DTV transition

Bureau chief Ken Ferree pointed to the fact that 85 percent of U.S. households now have access to five or more DTV stations.

At an open meeting of the FCC last week, Media Bureau chief Ken Ferree told the Commissioners the FCC made “tremendous progress” last year in the transition from analog to digital television and pointed to the Commission’s adoption of plug-and-play standards and the anti-piracy digital flag as significant achievements fostering its goals for the transition.

Speaking during a two-hour, multi-bureau report to the Commissioners, Ferree outlined the Media Bureau’s progress in helping the Commission achieve its goals in a number of key areas, including the transition from analog to DTV, broadcast localism, media ownership, competition, and cable broadband offerings, including voice of IP, homeland security and internal modernization.

The Media Bureau chief pointed to progress in:

  • Cable broadband. “The cable industry has invested billions of dollars to provide broadband access and other digital services,” he said. “As a result cable modem service is available to more than 87 million homes now.”
  • Digital television. “Eighty-five percent of U.S. homes now have access to five or more digital broadcast stations, an ever increasing number of network programs or sporting events are broadcast in high-definition and over 4 million DTV sets were sold last year,” he said. “This year, six million DTV sets are projected to be sold.”
  • Broadcast localism: “The localism task force was created to gather empirical data and to advise the commission on steps that can be taken to promote localism in broadcasting,” he said. Ferree also pointed to the processing of 1,600 low power FM applications as evidence of an emphasis on localism.
  • Broadcast ownership: “With regard to ownership policy the bureau presented its biennial broadcast ownership review in June after a 20 month proceeding in which the commission sought and analyzed the most extensive public record in its history,” he said.
  • Competition. Saying the bureau would soon release its 10th annual video competition report, Ferree pointed to the changing MVPD landscape and the taking root of competition. “In 1993, 95 percent of subscribers received their service from cable,” he said. “Last year, only 75 percent did due primarily to the widespread growth of DBS.”
  • Homeland Security. “In December of 2003, MSRC (Media Security and Reliability Council) adopted 88 best practices to ensure the robustness and security of media infrastructure,” he said.
  • Modernization: The bureau has improved its service, Ferree said, making it better for those interacting with the FCC. “The bureau continues to make significant progress on its backlog reduction,” he said.

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