CFA: DTV efforts off the mark

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The Consumer Federation of America said the draft of proposed digital-TV legislation
being floated on the Hill won't speed the transition to digital television, but
will instead allow for more foot-dragging, while penalizing consumers in the
bargain. It doesn't think much of Federal Communications Commission efforts to
advance digital TV, either.

"Energy and Commerce chairman [Rep.] Billy Tauzin [R-La.] and FCC chairman Michael Powell
don't care about the consumer," CFA research director Mark Cooper said. "They
are protecting and promoting the industry at the expense of the consumer."

The federation's criticisms were leveled in a report released on the eve of
digital-TV hearings in the House Telecommunications and Internet Subcommittee Wednesday.

The report identified the key offenders in Hill and FCC proposals as the digital-TV
tuner mandate, "which will drive up television prices but offer consumers
marginal value," it said, and the broadcast flag, which the CFA fears will unduly
curb home recording rights.

Then how would the CFA spur the transition? Digital must-carry, open set-top-box
standards, protecting fair-use rights (translation: no broadcast flag) and a
government mandate for more compelling digital programming.

The full report is available at www.consumerfed.org/DTVTransition.pdf.

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