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Manufacturers, broadcasters heart DTV set-top boxes

Erik Hanson

Two major manufacturing and broadcasting trade associations both endorsed a plan to help the government ensure an easy transition to over-the-air Digital TV today, drafting a resolution to the National Telecommunications and Information Administration's (NTIA -- yeah, we hadn't heard of them either) Notice of Proposed Rulemaking.

The Consumer Electronics Association (CEA), which counts as its members basically every manufacturer of electronics; and the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB), who has representatives from almost every television broadcaster; combined with the Association for Maximum Service Television, Inc. (MSTV), a more technically-focused group of local stations. The three organizations submitted a proposal for the NTIA to take into consideration as it attempts to make rules for providing digital converter boxes to the American public for receiving DTV after the February 2009 cut-off date for analog broadcasts.

Some interesting sections of their proposal include not limiting digital-to-analog box coupons to strictly those who get their programming over-the-air (which should include those with satellite and an OTA antenna for local channels), and calls for both simplicity in the program, and the availability of low-cost, high-quality components. Waaait a minute, a call for plainly-marketed, well-built electronics at a low cost? What are we missing here? Oh right, Congress authorized five million dollars for educational campaigns, might as well get in on that now and put it to some good use. As an owner of an OTA set-top box, I can say they have huge potential for making the transition to DTV painless for even the most ancient of televisions, and will hopefully spur most Americans to buy a real HD-capable set, which in turn will push broadcasters and networks to produce all their content in HD so we don't have to worry about turning off channels during football.

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