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fcclogo NEWS

Federal Communications Commission
445 12th Street, S.W.
Washington, D.C. 20554
News media information 202 / 418-0500
Fax-On-Demand 202 / 418-2830
Internet: http://www.fcc.gov

This is an unofficial announcement of Commission action. Release of the full text of a Commission order constitutes official action. See MCI v. FCC. 515 F 2d 385 (D.C. Circ 1974).

April 30, 1999
  News Media Contact:
David Fiske (202) 418-0513


Tomorrow, Saturday, May 1st, FCC rules become effective calling for the ABC, CBS, FOX and NBC affiliates in each of the top ten television markets to begin programming on their digital television channels. I am pleased that the DTV transition is largely on schedule and that broadcasters are joining the digital revolution .

In addition, there are two other developments of equal significance:

(1) Many TV stations, as well as the 40 top-ten market stations subject to the May lst deadline, have already moved ahead to launch their DTV operations; and

(2) The questions surrounding DTV implementation are no longer whether, or when, but how best to implement DTV and what new opportunities exist for broadcasters in a world of convergence.

Over 270 stations from TV markets 1 through 90 have filed construction permit applications for DTV facilities, and over 150 of these have already been granted. Thus over six times the 40 top-ten market stations required to start up May 1, 1999, and over twice the 120 top-thirty market stations required to be on the air by next November 1, 1999, have already begun serious DTV planning and have requested permits to proceed.

A particularly revealing development was that major discussion about digital television at last week's National Association of Broadcasters convention was not about the build-out of DTV, but about how to use it: how to provide integrated program and data delivery systems with their digital capability; how to use DTV to compete with internet providers; and in short, how over-the-air television broadcasters can use DTV to be a significant competitor in the digital age of convergence.

To be sure, there are still important issues to be addressed, such as: DTV set manufacturing; regular DTV programming; antenna tower siting issues in some cities, including some of the top-ten markets; set-top box and digital-cable ready set compatibility; must carry; and copyright protection.

But the DTV train is rolling out of the station, and broadcasters are climbing aboard to be part of the digital revolution of the 21st century.

- FCC -