Satellite TV Industry Endorses Powell DTV Plan

The Satellite Broadcasting and Communications Association (SBCA) recently released a letter of support for FCC Chairman Michael Powell's call for broadcasters, cable operators and DBS providers to meet voluntary goals that will help spur the transition to digital broadcasting and widespread digital entertainment technology use among consumers.

The SBCA outlined how the satellite industry is meeting Powell's goals, which include offering HDTV services to all Americans and transmitting at least five value-added digital programming services during half of the primetime schedule by January 1, 2003.

DBS is an all-digital service that currently reaches 17 million households with 45 million viewers. It provides a spectrum of entertainment choices, including high-definition programming in original series, sporting events, public affairs programming and movies. DBS plans to increase the number of HD channels offered depending on transmission capacity.

Satellite providers including DirecTV and EchoStar also provide digital hardware with built-in satellite reception and set-top boxes that can receive HD signals in any of the ATSC formats as well as digital over-the-air signals.

According to the letter, "Both the DirecTV and EchoStar consumer equipment bring the added public benefit of contributing to the statutory 85-percent digital television receiver penetration benchmark that must be met before the broadcasters are required to return their valuable analog broadcast spectrum to the Commission, an event that will free up spectrum for new wireless and other services."