Saturday, May 3, 2008

Low-Power TV Association Fights Digital Conversion Boxes

I’m in the middle of a hearing, in the United States Congress, and I’m looking at a box that’s going to kill our industry.

-Ron Bruno, President of the Community Broadcaster’s Association

The Community Broadcasters Association has sued the Federal Communications Commission in federal court. The Association is reacting to the sale of digital TV converter boxes that the FCC has approved so that Americans with analog television sets will be able to receive TV signals over the air when stations switch to digital signals, as they will be required to do in 2009. The problem, the Association notes, is that its members, low-power TV broadcasters, will not be switching to digital TV; they are not required to do it and find it too expensive. They argue that the FCC should require the sale of converter boxes that also have switches for analog reception--and that the Commission is violating a law--the All-Channel Receiver Act--by not doing it. Retailers who have already bought the digital-only boxes point out that low-power TV broadcasters reach less than 1% of the TV audience and that great confusion will be created if the Association wins. It isn't hard to understand that the FCC didn't pay attention to the needs of low-power TV, for they are a constituency with rather little power. But it will be interesting to see what happens now.

In Joel Rose, "What Will Digital Do to Low-Power TV?", National Public Radio, May 3, 2008

No comments: