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Cable sending hopeful signals on DTV

OK, it's not exactly peace in the Middle East, but some conciliatory
overtures about digital TV are coming from the rival broadcast and cable

National Cable & Telecommunications Association president Robert Sachs
said Tuesday that the cable industry is willing to supplement broadcasters' and
TV-set makers' advertising campaigns promoting digital TV.

Cable operators 'offer to add our advertising resources to promote digital
television where MSOs are providing HDTV [high-definition television],' Sachs
said at the National Association of Broadcasters' Futures Conference.

The NAB and the Consumer Electronics Association have been running ads for
digital TV in four markets. Recently, cable MSOs Time Warner Cable, Comcast
Corp. and Charter Communications Inc. have announced they will launch digital
HDTV service in a total of 48 markets.

That Sachs was invited at all to the NAB fete is an olive branch of sorts
from the broadcasters, which have contended that cable is obstructing the
deployment of digital TV by refusing to carry digital signals of local stations
and refusing to establish technical standards that will allow digital-TV sets to
work with cable without set-top boxes.

Sachs said cable interoperability 'is not an issue,' and standards allowing
plug-and-play sets to be built are available.

Equipment manufacturers were skeptical of cable's stated desire for
agreement. 'You can make an offer to a woman in a bar, but that doesn't mean the
terms are acceptable,' a CEA spokesman said.

Equipment makers still oppose cable-industry demands that MSOs be allowed to
control digital boxes and 'onerous' copy-protection