DTV Primer

Chris Llana, Editor



Calm Before the Storm?

August 10, 2005

Congress has left Washington for its August recess without releasing the two latest DTV transition bills in progress. I assume staff is busy at work. These bills (one from the House of Representatives and the expected two from the Senate, including the already-released McCain bill) are expected to be merged with budget legislation and voted on in September.

Today was the last day for "Reply Comments" in the FCC's Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to advance the deadline for digital tuners in TVs smaller than 25". The current deadline is July 1, 2007. The FCC is proposing to move that date to "no later than December 31, 2006" so that consumers would have more time to buy digital TVs before the analog broadcast plug is pulled.

Industry comments in that proceeding predictably argued to retain the deadline where it is, smack in the middle of 2007, but offered to move it up a little, to March 1, 2007. The March date would ensure that there would be a second massive wave of holiday buying of analog TVs before those obsolete sets would be banned. (The first wave would be this year's gift-giving melee.)

Other commenters urged a summer or fall 2006 deadline for digital tuners in all TV receivers. Presumably widescreen displays will accompany the digital reception capability.

Look for an FCC decision on the digital tuner question at the Commissioners' September meeting. The House of Representatives draft bill included consideration of the same question; presumably they will be coordinating.

Stay tuned! September promises to be very interesting.