Group: DTV Transition Distant

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New data show that viewers in thinly populated states are being short-changed when it comes to getting access to broadcasts of network digital programming, the Digital Transition Coalition said Monday.

The numbers were submitted to the FCC to bolster support for legislation or federal rules that would let satellite TV companies import network high-definition programming into local markets.

“The DTV transition has a long distance to traverse before it becomes a reality,” the group said.

In Alaska, for instance, the DTV programming of ABC and FOX are not available over the air to anyone. CBS and NBC digital programs reach 98.9% and 87.7% of the public, respectively. Statewide 86.6% of households cannot receive a broadcast digital signal.

DTV reach also lags the nation in Vermont, South Dakota, Montana, Hawaii and Utah, the group added.

The coalition wants Congress to let DBS providers beam digital network programming from out-of-town markets to households that can’t get the net’s digital programming from a local affiliate. DBS providers are already allowed to deliver analog network signals to unserved areas.

“Tens of millions of Americans are being denied digital service because local broadcasters have been dragging their feet,” said George Landrith of Frontiers of Freedom.

Other members include DBS providers and anti-tax group Americans for Tax Reform, the latter which wants to speed the digital transition so that the spectrum can be reclaimed and sold and the profits put into the federal treasury.

Broadcasters so far have successfully fought the idea, arguing the DBS providers will continue to import programming illegally after stations begin serving those customers with digital.

"The claims of this group are simply not accurate," the National Association of Broadcasters said. "The reality is that broadcasters are currently replicating 93% of analog television service with digital and high definition TV. Moreover, DirecTV has unveiled plans to provide local-to-local HDTV service to virtually every home in America, thus obviating the need to create digital white areas."

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