NAB Lobbying FCC on Informal DTV Plan


The National Association of Broadcasters is already raising objections to a new digital-TV-transition plan at the Federal Communications Commission that has even not seen the light of day.

The plan -- which has not been publicly released and continues to evolve -- would require TV stations to give back their analog spectrum many years earlier than expected. It would also require cable to carry off-air digital-TV signals in converted analog format.

In a March 18 filing at the FCC, the NAB disclosed that Marsha MacBride, the group's executive vice president of legal and regulatory affairs, met with FCC chairman Michael Powell's top media adviser, Jonathan Cody, to express concerns about the plan.

MacBride said in the filing that her discussion with Cody reflected the NAB's concern "that analog downconversion at the cable headend at this point in the DTV transition was likely to slow its pace."

Broadcasters are concerned that consumers won't go out and buy digital-TV sets if cable can carry their digital-TV signals in analog.

In her filing, MacBride -- who recently joined the NAB after resigning as Powell's chief of staff -- did not mention that the trade group shared some paternity for the downconversion concept.

This past November, the NAB and the Association for Maximum Service Television (MSTV) offered the FCC a multipart plan to jump-start the digital-TV transition. One provision called on cable to downconvert digital-TV signals so that analog-only homes would not lose access to local TV stations.