Last updated: April 22, 2008 - 1:23pm
10 Years After Telecom Act, FCC Still Fails to Act
Benton Releases Roadmap for DTV Action
Background: On Wednesday February 8, the 10th anniversary of the signing of the Telecommunications Act of 1996, President Bush plans to sign the Deficit Reduction Act which includes the Digital Television Transition and Public Safety Act. With the signing, the Benton Foundation is releasing "Getting to February 2009: Implementing the Digital TV Transition," a brief guide to the next steps in the digital transition. In addition, Charles Benton, chairman of the Benton Foundation, said:
"In launching the DTV era today, policymakers must not miss this fresh opportunity to map a path for consumer benefits -- bringing a little reality back to television. Once again, February 8 is an historic day in US telecommunications policy. Ten years ago, Congress amended the Communications Act, opening the door for the Federal Communications Commission to create digital television broadcasting. But with this opening came a firm reminder that television stations are licensed with an obligation to serve the public interest, convenience and necessity. As early as 1995, the FCC recognized that the move to digital broadcasting would necessitate a redefining of this obligation given broadcasters' expanded capacity with digital technology. To date, the FCC has failed to act."
In November 2005, the FCC's Consumer Advisory Committee, hand-picked by Chairman Kevin Martin, answered the call of Capitol Broadcasting's Jim Goodmon who warned that local broadcasting in the US will perish without an updated definition of strong public interest obligations. The advisory committee recommended that the FCC act in this area by May 18, 2006. Today, Benton echoed Jim Goodmon's warning:
"The actions -- and billions of dollars -- set in motion by the President's signature will all be for naught, if the FCC continues to ignore the compact between local broadcasters and the communities they are licensed to serve. Now is the time for the FCC to get its act together and to complete its work."
* Getting to February 2009: Implementing the Digital TV Transition
* Getting to February 2009: Outstanding DTV Transition Issues
A private foundation since 1981, the Benton Foundation (www.benton.org) works to advance a public interest vision and policy alternatives for the digital age and to demonstrate the value of communications for solving social problems. The foundation is based in Washington, DC.
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