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House Bill Gives FCC Digital TV Deadline

The U.S. House of Representatives introduced a bill giving the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) 30 days to adopt the consumer electronics digital plug-and-play agreement.

The Consumer Access to Digital Television Enhancement Act of 2003 was introduced by Reps. Rich Boucher, (D-Va.) and Lee Terry (R-Neb.) who also altered the original text requiring that all TV sets labeled “digital cable ready” contain tuners to capture off-air digital signals. This would enable consumers to buy televisions equipped for one-way digital programming without having to rent a set-top box from a cable company. Negotiations between the cable and CE industries are ongoing for two-way interactive service.

Fourteen CE and eight cable companies have already signed on to the digital plug-and-play agreement and it is strongly supported by the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA).

In a statement Gary Shapiro, CEA president, expressed its backing of the Boucher-Terry bill. “By supporting swift FCC action on the cable-consumer electronics industries, your bill will help remove the final major obstacle to the ubiquitous deployment of DTV. The voluntary industry agreement will establish technical marketplace and regulatory certainty for the cable and CE industries, and allow for the national portability of digital cable products,” Shapiro said.