House Energy and Commerce Committee chairman Billy Tauzin (R-La.) plans to
introduce a comprehensive digital-television bill after Congress returns from
Easter break at the end of this month, spokesman Ken Johnson said at the National Association of Broadcasters' convention in
Las Vegas Sunday.
Tauzin believes TV-set manufacturers ought to build affordable sets that will
both receive and pass through digital-TV signals, whether they are delivered
over-the-air or by cable, although set makers do not appear to be on that path
Last August, the Federal Communications Commission implemented a rule that
requires set makers to include tuners in sets.
Cable operators and set makers also have agreed to build sets that will pass
through digital-cable signals without set-top boxes.
But consumers have yet to receive sets with either technology included, and
that concerns Tauzin, as well as broadcasters, House Energy and Commerce
counsel Jessica Wallace said.
Tauzin also wants to implement as quickly as possible a broadcast-flag
technology that will copy-protect digital content so studios will begin rolling
out high-end digital content over broadcast television.
"Chairman Tauzin wants to ensure that consumers are seeing new and exciting
content," Wallace said. "If content is not protected, the studios might migrate
their content to a closed distribution system."
Members of Congress and congressional staff all appeared stumped over how to
handle the issue of whether cable operators should be required to carry
multicast digital-broadcast signals.
"Broadcasters will make a better case for themselves when they develop more
solid multicast business plans," Wallace said.