FCC touts DTV bennies and call goes out for universal HDTV


The FCC used one of its consumer information releases to fill them in on all the great things they’ll get once the transition to digital television is complete. Meanwhile, the suggestion is out that the FCC subsidize consumer access to HDTV receivers as it has done with converter boxes.

The benefits of digital are well known to the readers of this space, but the FCC is taking no chances when it comes to the people who will be the beneficiaries of the new technology. The FCC also took pains to point out that the transition will free up spectrum for other uses, not the least of which is to improve communications for first responders.

“With all that digital television offers to consumers and society, it is essential that all Americans get prepared for the transition on June 12,” stressed FCC Chairman Michael Copps. “The FCC is devoting tremendous resources in these final days to ease the transition and ensure that those with analog sets have the assistance they need to reap the benefits of the digital age.”

DG FastChannel Inc. Chairman/CEO Scott Ginsburg, meanwhile, says that every American should get full benefit of digital, and that means the ability to watch high-def programming, which was the reason for the transition in the first place. He said as much in a letter to the FCC.

He argues that $20B has come into the FCC via various spectrum auctions, and that a “portion of the auction proceeds be used to provide loans or grants to those in need of financial assistance to acquire an HDTV for their home viewing while giving consumers the choice of a preferred vendor to use as has been the case with the digital to analog converter box.”

“Digital broadcasting, together with the HDTV format, transforms your television viewing experience by offering a better picture, better sound, better channels and more programs and thoroughly sets a new standard for viewing over-the-air TV content,” said Ginsburg. “As we move into the new digital TV era, it does not seem fair that only some of us will enjoy the preferred viewing provided with an HDTV set, and others will not. This new ‘digital divide’ unmistakably creates another classification of haves and have-nots, and should not become the status quo. It would be fundamentally wrong if only a subset of the American public were to enjoy the full benefits of digital broadcasting.”

RBR/TVBR observation: It was hard enough to get $40 together for converter boxes. We don’t see any chance whatsoever for HDTV subsidies to get off the ground.