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February 23, 2000

Statement of Commissioner Susan Ness Praising CEA/NCTA Interoperability
Agreements and Supporting NPRM on Remaining Issues

The agreements reached yesterday by the consumer electronics and cable television industries are a significant step toward facilitating the Nation's transition to digital television. This is good news for the American consumer.

Consumers will be able to connect their digital TV sets directly to cable, thanks to the agreed upon network interface specifications. Consumers also will have a wider choice of electronic program guides, thanks to the parties' agreement on Program and System Information Protocol (PSIP) data. Such guides will become increasingly important as the number of channels and services expands in the digital environment.

But we can't declare victory when the game's only at halftime.

There remain significant issues of disagreement that could have profound effects on the digital transition. We must bring to resolution the outstanding issues of copy protection and the accurate labeling of digital television receivers. I would support a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking that properly addresses these questions, should the consumer electronics and cable industries fail to reach an agreement. I am hopeful, however, that just as industry forged a consensus on network interface and PSIP disputes, it will do so with respect to copy protection and labeling.