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Powell plan would spur digital TV transition

Posted: 09 Apr 2002 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:Powell? TV receiver? digital? cable system? network?

Federal Communications Commission chairman Michael Powell is floating a plan to help jumpstart the market's sluggish transition to digital TV.

Powell's voluntary plan seeks to break the logjams over copy protection and cable compatibility that have slowed sales of digital TV receivers as consumers wait for the resolution of issues that would allow digital programming to be delivered over cable systems.

The plan would prod the four major broadcast networks along with premium cable channels to offer DTV programming during at least 50 percent of their prime-time schedule beginning with the 2002 TV season. By January 2003, under the plan, cable operators would offer to carry digital programming from broadcasters and other services at no cost while providing subscribers with the option of leasing or buying set-top boxes to display the programming.

In a Thursday (April 4) letter to lawmakers, Powell said his plan is intended as an immediate boost to the digital transition while work continues on solving copy protection and cable must-carry rules. "These are issues that can and must be solved. But I do not believe that we must defer all progress on the digital television transition until we do," Powell said.

? George Leopold

EE Times

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