Another day, another DTV hearing for the House Telecom Subcmte. Hot topics at Wed’s hearing included whether the govt should require broadcasters to air consumer education ads and multicast must-carry. Insight‘s Michael Willner said cable ops would carry multicast streams if they are of interest to consumers but said ops shouldn’t be required to carry them—a sentiment shared by ranking member Fred Upton (R-MI). “There is this misconception that a 750Mhz system is this vast wasteland of bandwidth that has the ability for unlimited use,” Willner said. “We are struggling today to try and maneuver the services that we’re already offering…” Subcmte chmn Ed Markey (D-MA) questioned how NAB will get all stations to air DTV transition PSAs in primetime and other dayparts without a govt mandate. But Hearst-Argyle pres/CEO David Barrett called for the initiative to stay voluntary. “My concern is that we not give a disincentive to do the things that will drive this program,” he said, arguing that if the govt were to require 10-12 PSAs to air each day, stations might “believe that’s all that needs to be done.” ACA chmn/Sunflower Broadband Patrick Knorr said small operators need help with the digital transition. “I think a mandate to deploy digital where there is no financial justification… very likely, almost with economic certainty, will drive these operators out of business,” he said.

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