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Broadcaster Missing From FCC DTV Advisory Committee

House Energy & Commerce Committee Chairman John Dingell (D-Mich.) said Monday that he was surprised that the FCC didn't name any broadcasters to its Consumer Advisory Committee on DTV transition policy.

The FCC rechartered the group for a two-year term--it was established in 2000--with a new focus on helping educate target populations--seniors, minorities, lower income, rural, and the disabled--about the DTV transition.

Members include representatives of the Alliance for Community Media and Consumers Union, both of which have opposed media consolidation and advocated DTV public interest obligations. There is also an executive from broadcast programming critic Parents Television Council, and even the Hawaii State Public Utilities Commission, but no station exec to be found, though there are representatives of satellitve TV (EchoStar), cable (Cablevision) and telcos (Verizon).

In a statement, Dingell pointed to the omission. "It is most curious, however, that there is no representative from the broadcasting industry on a committee that is supposed to advise on policy affecting the digital television transition," he said. "I hope the Commission will consider correcting this omission as it proceeds."

"We will give it serious consideration and appreciate input from members of Congress," said FCC spokesman Clyde Ensslin.

NAB spokesman Dennis Wharton said the association "appreciates the concerns expressed by Chairman Dingell and we look forward to a continuing dialogue with the FCC on this issue."

Dingell also said he "look[ed] forward to receiving its full consumer education plan shortly." The FCC was scheduled to respond to a letter from Dingell and Telecommunications & Internet Subcommittee Chairman Ed Markey (D-Mass.) about the FCC's plans for educating the public about the DTV transition, suggesting it should lean on broadcasters to start their voluntary effort ASAP.

Back in 2005, a media working group of the committee recommended quantifiable DTV public interest standards, but they were just, that, recommendations, which the FCC is under no obligation to adopt.