Digital TV transition in US has a long way to go: report

MUMBAI: A new study in the US has stressed the need for speeding up the digital television transition process.

The Digital Transition Coalition (DTC) has said that, contrary to the claims of the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB), the DTV transition has a long distance to traverse before it becomes a reality.

Tens of millions of Americans are still unable to receive one or more of their local network stations in digital mode. The coalition released state-by-state maps, using Federal Communications Commission (FCC) data. These clearly illustrate the coverage of digital signals across the US as of July 2004.

The maps were filed with the FCC as part of the coalition's response to a filing by the NAB. Earlier the NAB had stated that broadcasters had met the challenge of the conversion to DTV and that the transmission side of the DTV equation was built.

However the DTC analysis revealed that 36.1 per cent of households (over 39 million) cannot receive digital service from at least one of the network broadcasters. Nineteen per cent of households (over 20 million) are receiving digital service from only three digital network broadcasters.

George Landrith of Frontiers of Freedom, which is a member of the DTC added, "This analysis paints a stark picture of the digital transition in this country. It illustrates once and for all that the transition to digital television is behind schedule and continues to exclude millions of Americans -- especially those in rural areas.

"And this is happening despite the fact that broadcasters were supposed to be broadcasting their DTV service at full power by 2002. While technology is improving and more offerings are available, the reality is tens of millions of Americans are still being denied digital service because the local broadcasters have been dragging their feet," adds Landrith.

Landrith further said, "The key to speeding up the transition is to provide incentives for local broadcasters to make digital signals available and to give other services the ability to offer those signals if the local broadcasters won't."

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