Lawmakers Pressuring Industries on DTV


Key House lawmakers are pressing the cable, broadcasting and
consumer-electronics industries to settle digital-television-transition disputes
or face intervention by Congress, sources said Thursday.

National Cable & Telecommunications Association president Robert Sachs
attended the Capitol Hill meeting Thursday, staged by House Energy and Commerce
Committee chairman Billy Tauzin (R-La.), Rep. Fred Upton (R-Mich.) and Rep.
Edward Markey (D-Mass.).

Also present from industry were Edward Fritts, president of the National
Association of Broadcasters; Gary Shapiro, president of the Consumer Electronics
Association; Jack Valenti, president of the Motion Picture Association of
America; and broadcast lawyer Richard Wiley, who helped to develop the
digital-TV broadcast-transmission standard.

'It was a very productive meeting with a wide range of issues discussed,
including digital must-carry, transition deadline and copy protection,' Tauzin
spokesman Ken Johnson said. 'There was an open and frank discussion of the many
challenges facing all of the affected parties.'

Although Johnson declined to provide specifics, other sources said the
industry leaders were told the digital-TV transition has made slow progress due
to industry clashes on a host of fronts. Failure to resolve them privately would
invite a response from Congress.

'Ed [Markey] certainly made that point. I am not sure Tauzin and Upton said
that,' said Markey aide Colin Crowell, who attended the meeting.

Markey also voiced dismay that analog-TV receivers were not equipped with
digital-TV tuners. Markey restated his support for legislation mandating the
installation of digital-TV tuners in new analog sets, Crowell said.

The lawmakers and industry leaders are scheduled to meet soon to discuss
specific steps that can be taken by industry and perhaps by legislation.

'Hopefully, we have nudged the process along. The same group will be meeting
again in a few weeks to offer some specifics on how industry should move forward
and what role Congress should play in the process,' Johnson