DTV coalition calls for lawmakers to be sensitive to consumer concerns

 MUMBAI: Americans deserve more — they deserve to be told the facts about the digital television transition, what it is and what it means for them.

Keeping this in mind the American organisation The Coalition for a Smart Digital TV Transition has called on the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Telecommunications and the Internet.

The aim was to address consumer concerns that are currently missing from the "Staff Draft" of the DTV Transition Bill.


The DTV coalition has stressed the importance of consumers relying on over-the-air reception of

broadcast television, together with the 73 million owners of analogue television sets not being disenfranchised by the transition to a digital era.



Coalition members from different sectors like consumer, minority, labour, and communications

and agricultural groups, are concerned about three critical elements that are currently missing from the proposed/draft digital television plan.

The Coalition has outlined its three primary changes to the proposed legislation.

1. The legislation must include a provision to compensate low-income Americans for the cost of set-top converter boxes.

2. The legislation should authourise multicast must-carry.

3. The legislation needs to ensure that cable systems provide subscribers with traditional, analogue televisions with the signal from all local boadcasters, while also providing the full, HDTV signal to those subscribers who have invested in a digital television set.

The DTV coalition states that while the proposed plan to convert from analogue to digital is a good first step, it does not fully address

the needs of Hispanic and other minority consumers, who will need special assistance with the transition. The coalition says that it will continue working with the House and Senate to ensure the final plan addresses these issues.

Meanwhile America's farmers and other rural consumers are pleased that Congress has pushed back the digital television transition date to 31 December 2008. However they say that it is vital that the legislation mitigate the economic impact to rural residents who will be required to purchase expensive equipment to receive programming via free over-the-air, cable or satellite broadcasting.

In sparsely populated areas with little or no access to traditional cable or satellite systems, there will be disproportionate impact to rural residents -- often on a fixed- income -- and to rural schools, libraries, hospitals and nursing homes.

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