News

Tauzin Readying DTV Legislation

7/16/2002 3:04 AM Eastern

House Energy and Commerce Committee chairman Billy Tauzin (R-La.) is planning
to introduce legislation in September that will address a range of
digital-TV-transition issues -- including cable carriage of local broadcasters
-- if the industries fail to craft a plan on their own.

Tauzin spokesman Ken Johnson said many digital-TV-transition issues remain
'stuck in the mud' and require legislation in the absence of a broad industry
accord.

He added that Tauzin was planning to offer a 'bipartisan, omnibus
digital-television bill' that would address cable carriage of digital-broadcast
signals, cable compatibility with digital-TV sets, inclusion of off-air
digital-TV tuners in digital-TV sets, copyright protection of digital content
and TV-station pass-through of network-generated high-definition
programming.

'It will be a comprehensive bill,' Johnson said. 'Some of these issues can be
peeled off if they are resolved before September.'

Federal Communications Commission chairman Michael Powell proposed a
voluntary digital-TV transition plan in April that called on the cable,
broadcasting, satellite and consumer-electronics industries to take steps to
spark the transition.

Last Friday, Powell issued a statement expressing disappointment that the
consumer-electronics industry declined to embrace his call for the inclusion of
off-air digital-TV tuners in nearly all new TV sets by Dec. 31, 2006.

Powell's plan did not address the copy-protection and cable/digital-TV-set
compatibility issues. Tauzin urged the industries to adopt a policy by Monday on
the protection of digital-broadcast programming, but no agreement was
announced.

'We are near the edge of an agreement . and we are anxious to avoid further
delay,' Motion Picture Association of America president Jack Valenti
said.

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