NAB Opposes HDTV Downconversion


The National Association of Broadcasters has joined the network affiliate associations in opposing language in a Senate bill that would allow cable to convert broadcasters' HDTV signals to standard-definition DTV.

Like the affiliates, NAB has no beef with the provision in the Senate telecommunications rewrite that allows cable to downconvert DTV to analog so that cable consumers without digital sets don't lose their TV station signals after the transition to DTV in February 2009. But NAB President David Rehr in a letter to Senate Commerce Committee Chairman Ted Stevens argued that consumers who have "invested hard-earned dollars" in making the switch to DTV "are entitled to the assurance that their televisions will perform at the level they expect and deserve."

Rehr also echoed affiliates' own letter last week in saying that cable "may well have anticompetitive reasons" for downconversion. Affiliates suggested it would be a way for cable to favor its own HDTV offerings.

The cable industry has argued that if they are required by law to carry multiple TV stations in HDTV, it will suck up some bandwidth they could instead be using for advanced services their customers would prefer.

The Senate is scheduled to mark up an omnibus--at least at the moment--telecom reform bill June 20.