A new digital-transition coalition has formed to lobby for the speedier rollout of diogital-TV service -- including freeing up satellite to offer HDTV to local markets nationwide -- and the resulting reclamation of analog spectrum for resale.
The aptly named Digital Transition Coalition includes bedfellows American's For Taxpayer Reform, Media Access Project, Frontiers of Freedom, EchoStar, and Public Knowledge. The mix of some liberal and conservative groups mirrors the mix of goals, which include serving rural areas, improving emergency communications, opening up new markets for EchoStar, keeping broadcasters on task and fattening the treasury.
The group will track and push for policies that advance:
1) Availability of network DTV signals nationwide (it suggests satellite delivery might move things along)
2) Return of the analog spectrum by Dec. 31, 2006.
3) Redeployment of some analog spectrum to public safety use and the rest auctioned no later than Dec. 31, 2007.
The group has also launched a Web site, www.IWantMyHDTV.com, to enlist support for its legislative proposals.
The site con taints information about those efforts, including academic studies. It also plugs one proposed solution to speeding HDTV rollout--allowing satellite broadcasters to deliver out-of-market HDTV signals to markets where a local station is not providing them.
Congress is currently considering changes to the law that allows satellite companies to carry local stations, or conversely prevents them from importing network signals to markets with a viable local affiliate. EchoStar is pushing to make it easier to import digital signals of distant network stations.