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More on the DTV conversion

One of the arguments against counting down-converted analog set owners as part of the DTV revolution 85% is that it will slow the sale of HDTV sets, which in turn will keep the price of the sets high and slow HDTV program production, producing a vicious cycle which will work against the public's ability to enjoy the benefits of technology which are the reason we're going through all this in the first place.

FCC Media Bureau Chief Ken Ferree argued that if steps aren't taken to get analog out of the picture, we'll still be kicking this transition around in the middle of the century.

He further argued that this approach would encourage HDTV set sales - - for one thing, a hard date would encourage consumers to take technology into account the next time they buy a television set. He noted that under the current situation, millions are stilling opting for analog.

Must-carry is also a pending issue of some magnitude - - not whether, but how much, on those occasions when broadcasters opt to split their digital signal rather than stream HDTV programming. Ferree was unwilling to go into any great depth on that topic, but he did say that it seemed like far less of a problem than achieving the 85% benchmark. "My own opinion is it's not really that hard of an issue," he said, since cable operators would be saving carriage space taking either style digital signal compared to carrying an analog signal.

Answering a totally unrelated question, Ferree opined that the current indecency controversy is not so much a result of consolidation. Rather, it's a result of audience fragmentation and the lengths some broadcasters will go to to attract certain lucrative audience demos.

Finally, queried about meeting broadcasters in Las Vegas next week, and asking for return of analog spectrum, he said he expected to be pelted with tomatoes. And he went a bit further, saying of television broadcasters that "They'd rather eat their children than give up this spectrum."

We're 99% sure he was kidding.


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