DTV Issues Could Be Unbundled

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Both House and Senate staffers said Monday that neither body is likely in the current session to get to all of the DTV-related issues that had to be stripped from the DTV hard-date bill due to Senate rules.

Those issues include multicasting, allowing cable to convert DTV signals to lower resolution, and outreach and education campaigns.

Addressing an audience of broadcasting executives at the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB)' State Leadership Conference in Washington Monday, Rachel Welch, staffer with Senate Commerce Committee Co-Chairman Daniel Inouye (D-Hawaii), called all those issues critical, but said that, with the short legislative calendar, she was not sure which would be decided in the current session, saying that she did not think they had to be tied together.

Ryan Walker, with Rep. Paul Gillmor (R-Ohio), concurred about the short calendar, adding that the Energy and Commerce Committee's near-term telcom priority is the bill tightening up access to cellphone records.

Broadcasters have argued that securing mandatory cable carriage of their multicast signals is vital to the DTV transition as well as to the continued viability of the medium.

House Commerce Committee Chairman Joe Barton, who voted against the analog must-carry requirement back in the early 1990's, still does not support multicasting. Senate Commerce Committee Chairman Senator Ted Stevens (R-Alaska), by contrast, has been a more receptive ear to their arguments.

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