Powell joins in digital brainstorm session


FCC Chairman Michael Powell on Wednesday joined members of Congress and
industry executives in a second meeting on how to jump-start the transition to
digital television.

Powell wasn't at the first meeting, which took place last
month, but his commission has taken a strong interest in getting the transition
on track.

Accompanying Powell from the FCC was Rick Chessen, head of the commission's DTV Task Force.

"Clearly Chairman Powell's presence highlights the importance of working together to resolve these problems," said Ken Johnson, spokesman for House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Billy Tauzin (R-La.).

Tauzin, John Dingell (D-Mich.), Fred Upton (R-Mich.), Ed Markey (D-Mass.) and Cliff Stearns (R-Fla.) are pushing the broadcast, cable, consumer electronics and content industries to work together to get the transition to digital rolling.

"Everyone in that room left with the clear understanding that either the parties come up with a resolution or Congress will do it for them," Johnson said.

Industry executives attending the meeting included NAB's Eddie Fritts and Jim May, NCTA's Peggy Binzel, CEA's Gary Shapiro, MPAA's Fritz Attaway, CBS's Martin Franks, MSTV's David Donovan, Intel's Peter Pitsch, and ALTV's Bob Branson.

"One thing that was encouraging to us is that MPAA and CEA seem to be working a lot closer to try and resolve the issue of protecting copyrighted material," Johnson said. "Clearly, that's one of the hold-ups to reaching an agreement. If we can resolve to that issue to everyone's satisfaction, many of these other issues will fall by the wayside." - Paige Albiniak