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House Bill Gives FCC Plug ‘N Play Deadline

Washington – The U.S. House of Representatives introduced a bill this week giving the Federal Communications Commission 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 on-going 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 CEA.

In a written 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 he cable and CE industries, and allow for the national portability of digital cable products,’ Shapiro said.

David Arland, Thomson’s director of worldwide public and trade relations, added his company’s thanks in a letter to Rep. Lee.

‘By focusing on the need for plug and play high definition digital TV cable compatibility and over the air digital signals that are strong enough to be received by most consumers.’ Arland added, ‘Your legislation takes a reasonable, targeted and common-sense approach in step with the commendable efforts being undertaken at the FCC, to maximizing both cable and off-air consumers’ access to digital television.