House members Wed seemed open to the FCC Media Bureau’s DTV transition proposal, anxious to put the transition to end sooner rather than much later. "This is the 1st real proposal that provides some semblance of a transition in a reasonable and timely manner," House Telecom & Internet subcommittee chmn Fred Upton (R-MI) said during a hearing. In fact, House Commerce chmn Joe Barton (R-TX) indicated he wanted the transition completed even sooner than the Media Bureau’s proposed ’09 date, asking why Congress shouldn’t just uphold the ’06 deadline by subsidizing the cost of digital-to-analog converters for low-income, analog HHs. "If we debate when is the best time to have the digital transition, we’ll still be having the debate 30 years from now," Barton said. Congress’ urgency for getting the analog spectrum back is a bad sign for broadcasters, who vehemently oppose the Media Bureau plan. "The Media Bureau plan has it backwards," Fast Eddie Fritts told lawmakers. "It takes TV from digital to analog, instead of analog to digital." The heads of NCTA, CEA, and SBCA were supportive of the plan-to an extent. Each had a wish list of changes for the plan, which is in flux. Cable doesn’t like that broadcasters would be granted multicast must-carry rights or that a must-carry broadcaster would be able to determine when and whether a cable operator can downconvert its digital signal to analog at the headend. CEA endorsed the plan, but had a list of concerns, many aimed at cable. It wants: cable to transmit all broadcasters’ DTV signals by Jan ’09, rather than downcoverting them at the headend; cable to be forced not to reduce the picture or sound quality when carrying broadcast signals digitally; and cable operators to be required to rely on CableCARDs in the equipment they lease to consumers. CEA also wants broadcasters’ digital signals to be at full power by ’06. SBCA shared cable’s must-carry concerns, but also tried to use the hearing to rally support for DBS’ plan to deliver out-of-market digital signals in areas where local broadcasters are still broadcasting in analog. Next up? A hearing late this month or in July on Berlin’s DTV transition.

The Daily


No Olympics Travel for ESPN

Sports giant ESPN says it’s sitting out sending staff to China for the Winter Olympics due to COVID-19 concerns.

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