Markey Plans Sirius/XM, Converter Box Hearings - Broadcasting & Cable

Markey Plans Sirius/XM, Converter Box Hearings

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Congressman Ed Markey, chairman of the House Subcommittee on Telecommunications and the Internet, told broadcasters Tuesday that the committee would hold a hearing March 7 on the XM/Sirius merger and other radio issues, including HD radio and music downloads.

He did not say whether he supported or opposed the merger. Markey also said the subcommittee would hold a hearing in the next few weeks on the National Telecommunications & Information Administration's DTV converter-box program.

He also reiterated that the Feb. 17, 2009 DTV hard date would only remain so if the public were adequately notified of the switch, particularly the estimated 20 million analog-only users. To that end, he praised the National Association of Broadcasters, National Cable and Telecommunications Association and Consumer Electronics Association's joint consumer-education campaign.

Markey noted that broadcast TV faced new challenges from broadband competition but said he was still a fan of over-the-air TV and would work to keep broadcasters at the center of the digital revolution.

Commenting on the Univision $24 million fine, he said that most broadcasters were fulfliing their obligations when it came to educational kids TV programming but that the FCC must enforce the law against violators.

Markey was the driving force behind the 1990 Children's Television Act, which mandated the three-hour minimum programming for educational kids TV, which Univision allegedly violated.

Markey said he expected to deal with the DTV public-interest obligations issue this year.

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