NCTA, NAB diverge on HDTV progress

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The high-definition-television glass is either one-third full or nine-tenths
empty, depending on whom you ask.

On the eve of the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, the National Cable
& Telecommunications Association said in a press release Tuesday that
cable has launched HDTV in more than 90 markets on systems serving 37 million
homes, or about one-third of the total.

It conceded that the mix of cable and broadcast HDTV varied by market, but
it listed a host of cable HDTV offerings, present and future.

"HDTV service is very important to cable's future. Cable operators and
programmers are striving to drive consumer demand for HDTV by creating more
programming and making HDTV available to more TV households," NCTA
president Robert Sachs said.

Hardly had the electrons dried on the NCTA electronic mail when the National
Association of Broadcasters shot back with its own release, weighing in like
Paul Harvey to provide what it said was "the rest of the story."

In most of those markets, the NAB said, the only HDTV programming being carried
is from cable networks.

Although there are now 700 digital free, over-the-air TV stations, the NAB said,
fewer than 10 percent are being carried.

"No amount of rosy NCTA spin changes the fact that the cable industry is
still using its gatekeeper clout to deny most Americans access to over-the-air
digital and high-definition television programming," the NAB added.

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