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With a few modifications CEA endorses FCC DTV plan

With a few key modifications, the DTV transition proposal offered by the FCC’s Media Bureau will help spur the nation’s transition from analog to digital television, ensure spectrum recovery and provide DTV to the home, said Gary Shaprio, president of the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA), during testimony before the House DTV hearing.

Shapiro called on Congress and the FCC to require cable and digital broadcast satellite providers to transmit all broadcasters’ DTV signals digitally by January 2009, rather than sending only a version that is downconverted at the headend. He added that broadcast signals must remain unencrypted when cable operators carry them digitally, preserving the concept of free over-the-air TV.

Shapiro also asked that the FCC, “require that cable operators not reduce the sound or picture quality when they are carrying broadcast signals digitally. If a broadcaster is making the investment to provide HDTV programming and Dolby Digital surround sound, then that is what the cable viewer should see and hear.”

Shapiro advocated unadulterated and robust DTV signals as he urged mandatory cable carriage of all free bits sent by the broadcaster and full-power broadcasting. “While many DTV stations claim to be replicating their analog broadcast service area, according to FCC data, only 477 of the 1362 commercial broadcast stations are actually delivering a full-power DTV signal. The result is unused spectrum.”

Shapiro also called on the FCC to ensure a competitive market for cable plug-and-play equipment by requiring cable operators to rely on separable security or CableCARDs in the equipment they lease to consumers.

The CEA chief also noted DBS carriage to so-called white areas and the rejection of selectable output controls and other measures that threaten home recording and fair use rights. “CEA urges Congress to allow satellite providers to carry distant network signals in areas where local broadcasters are not providing them,” Shapiro said.

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