B'casters: No DTV tuners in sets?

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A private agreement between TV set manufacturers and cable operators to build
cable-ready DTV sets contains no language that would require those sets to
include digital TV tuners, broadcasters say.

Last week, the National Association of Broadcasters and the Association of
Maximum Service Television (MSTV) filed comments with the Federal Communications
Commission expressing concern that FCC ratification of the agreement would allow
TV set makers and cable operators to build proprietary cable set-top boxes with
monitors that would freeze out broadcasters altogether.

"There's a base expectation of what's going to be in this device," said Lynn
Claudy, NAB's head of engineering, during a panel at the NAB convention in Las
Vegas on Monday. "You don't want a consumer to buy a digital TV, suddenly decide
he doesn't want his cable service any longer, and find out he can't get
over-the-air television."

Last August, the FCC required TV set makers to include by 2007 digital TV
tuners in all devices that now include analog tuners.

That means that machines such as VCRs and DVD players that do not now include
analog tuners, by which TVs receive broadcast television, would not have to be
equipped with digital tuners.

But under the agreement hammered out between set makers and cable operators,
no cable-ready digital set would have to include any tuner, which worries
broadcasters.

Set makers are unlikely to build sets without tuners, sources say, because
the cost of adding tuners is incremental and adds to the functionality of a TV
set.

But as it stands, the agreement would allow cable operators to build their
own cable-ready monitors that would pass through only the cable signal,
bypassing broadcasters completely.

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