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House's DTV Decision Spurs Reaction - Broadcasting & Cable

House's DTV Decision Spurs Reaction

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Reacting to Monday's House approval of a DTV hard date of Feb. 17, 2009, the usual suspects weighed in on the decision.
“We applaud House and Senate conferees who worked out a compromise setting a February 17, 2009, hard date to end the digital-TV transition,” said High Tech DTV Coalition Executive Director Janice Obuchowski.  “After the House’s passage of a hard date in the budget reconciliation conference report, we expect the Senate to quickly step up to the plate and, at long last, open a new era in digital communications for consumers and first responders.”
Charles Benton, chairman of the Benton Foundation, a digital-age public-interest group, applauded the decision but said there was still plenty of work to be done: "It's now time for policymakers to take the next step in the digital-TV transitionputting the remote control back into viewers handsby outlining basic public-interest obligations for broadcasters to ensure that the public's airwaves indeed meet the public's needs.

"As the final decisions about the DTV transition now move to the Federal Communications Commission, critical questions remain unanswered:  Will DTV broadcasters provide the necessary civic programming before elections necessary for an informed democracy, or will democracy itself be left behind? Will the DTV future include a variety of voices and views, or will the nation's diversity be left behind?  Will DTV provide truly educational content, or will our children be left behind? Will DTV programming be accessible, or will people with sight- or hearing-impairments be left behind?"
NAB President/CEO David Rehr said in a statement, “NAB is pleased that the House included many pro-consumer DTV provisions in the budget reconciliation bill,” adding that the Senate should adopt the legislation.
The Senate approved a digital-TV transition bill in November that sets April 7, 2009, as the hard transition date, and set aside $3 billion for subsidies. The two sides will need to work in conference to reconcile the bills.

The House bill also sets a date of Jan. 28, 2008, for the auction of the analog spectrum.

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