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February 18, 1998


The FCC has just passed another milestone on the road to bringing the benefits of digital television (DTV) to the American public.

We have completed action on requests for reconsideration of our April 1997 DTV plan, and have given final approval of DTV channel assignments, construction deadlines, and other DTV transition rules that we believe will work for all broadcasters and will benefit U.S. consumers.

With these actions today, we are providing broadcasters the regulatory certainty they need to proceed expeditiously with their own business plans to move from today's analog NTSC television service into tomorrow's dynamic world of digital television.

I am pleased that those broadcasters who volunteered to be the first to convert to DTV are reporting that they expect to meet their build-out commitments. This means that viewers in these markets can expect to begin to be able to see the promise of digital television during this calendar year.

I believe that the adoption of a core DTV spectrum of channels 2-51 is necessary to serve our ultimate goal of ensuring the success of the digital transition so that all American consumers will see the benefits of digital television. Specifically, our decision will reduce the likelihood of adjacent channel interference between DTV stations, and will reduce greatly the number of costly "second moves" by stations required to move their operations into the core DTV spectrum by the end of the transition. I also believe that from a budget standpoint our decision regarding the core spectrum is comparable to our prior decision regarding core spectrum because the new DTV channels created by this action will be assigned through competitive bidding pursuant to the Budget Act of 1997.

The adoption of a DTV core spectrum of channels 2-51 also will provide more opportunities for low power broadcasters and translators to continue broadcasting and serving their communities. In many communities, low power stations are significant, and in some cases the exclusive, outlets for foreign language and other programming to underserved audiences. A number of low power stations are minority and women-owned, thereby enhancing diversity of ownership throughout the broadcast industry. Today's action affords these important community outlets an opportunity to remain viable in the digital age.

In addition, I am pleased that by our action we were able to permit UHF broadcasters to increase their power and therefore better serve their communities.

The FCC must continue to move expeditiously on the remaining DTV issues, such as must carry coverage, public service obligations and fees for ancillary services.

However, the structure and framework for digital television is now in place that will enable broadcasters and TV set manufacturers alike in 1998 to go from the planning stage into the building and manufacturing stage. This is great news for consumers and television viewers across the country.