Media Bureau chief tells commission DTV transition accelerated in 2004

Media Bureau Chief W. Ken Ferree reported on the status of the transition Jan. 13 during an open commission meeting

In 2004, progress on the transition to digital television accelerated with a greater number of program offerings, access points and consumer DTV purchases, Media Bureau Chief W. Ken Ferree told commissioners at its first regular meeting of 2005.

Ferree was one of several bureau and department chiefs reporting to the commission on the status of various issues and technologies under FCC purview Jan. 13 at agency’s headquarters in Washington, D.C.

During his presentation, Ferree pointed to several indicators that the digital transition is progressing. For example, the number of TV stations transmitting a digital signal in 2004 exceeded 1400, or 85 percent of all television stations, and the commission has laid the regulatory groundwork for the transition of LPTV and repeater stations to make the transition, he said.

Additionally, Ferree reported that 90 million households in 2004 were passed by a cable system offering HD programming. The total average number of daily HD programming also rose about sixfold in 2005, as did consumer purchases of DTV equipment to 6 million units last year. He also addressed that status of broadband Internet service, competition, spectrum usage, homeland security in 2004 and said that in 2005 the bureau would continue focusing on the digital television transition and address digital radio, SHVERA implementation and localism.

During a press conference after the meeting, Ferree told reporters that the bureau has completed its plan to bring the analog-to-digital conversion to a completion and the decision on whether or when to implement its recommendations rests with Commissioner Michael Powell. There’s no further staff work to be done on the plan, he said.

Whether or not multicasting questions will be addressed in the overall plan or as a standalone item is up to Powell, he said.

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