Powell Calls for Clear Timeline in Digital TV Transition

By Matthew Hicks  |  Posted 2005-01-07 Print this article Print

Speaking at CES, the FCC chairman says consumers and the industry need to know when TV broadcasts will cut the analog cord.

LAS VEGAS—In televisions transition to digital, theres a missing link: a firm date for when broadcasters must completely switch from analog to digital broadcasts. That link needs to be found this year in order to end uncertainty in the TV market about when digital will fully arrive, said Michael Powell, chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, during a talk Thursday at the International Consumer Electronics Show here.
Current federal law requires a transition to digital broadcasts by the end of 2006, but only if 85 percent of homes can view digital programming. The laws caveats make the date uncertain because there are no metrics for determining what counts as a home with digital access, Powell said.
"This problem has been avoided for years because 2006 looked far away, and I think we have to tackle this problem no matter what and no matter who does it," Powell said. The lack of a definite transition date leaves consumers particularly confused, Powell said. Retail salespeople often tell consumers that the digital switchover is far off, leading some consumers to buy analog sets over digital ones. Still, the transition is well under way for the consumer electronics makers. Consumers are buying high-definition TVs at a higher rate than Powell expected. "People are selling their second mortgage to buy high-definition televisions," he joked. "I think the future is bright." Read the full story on PCMag.com: "Powell Calls for Clear Timeline in Digital TV Transition."
Matthew Hicks As an online reporter for eWEEK.com, Matt Hicks covers the fast-changing developments in Internet technologies. His coverage includes the growing field of Web conferencing software and services. With eight years as a business and technology journalist, Matt has gained insight into the market strategies of IT vendors as well as the needs of enterprise IT managers. He joined Ziff Davis in 1999 as a staff writer for the former Strategies section of eWEEK, where he wrote in-depth features about corporate strategies for e-business and enterprise software. In 2002, he moved to the News department at the magazine as a senior writer specializing in coverage of database software and enterprise networking. Later that year Matt started a yearlong fellowship in Washington, DC, after being awarded an American Political Science Association Congressional Fellowship for Journalist. As a fellow, he spent nine months working on policy issues, including technology policy, in for a Member of the U.S. House of Representatives. He rejoined Ziff Davis in August 2003 as a reporter dedicated to online coverage for eWEEK.com. Along with Web conferencing, he follows search engines, Web browsers, speech technology and the Internet domain-naming system.

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