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Reps. seek to speed DTV transition

Make headway on the digital-TV transition or be forced to do so, lawmakers
told a group of trade-association heads and industry executives at a Capitol
Hill meeting Thursday.

'If there isn't some real progress within the next three to six months, I
think they have no choice [but to write a law],' said one executive who attended
the meeting.

The meeting focused on three issues, sources said.

Lawmakers looked at the need to make digital-cable set-top boxes compatible
with digital-TV sets to make sure cable is passing along broadcasters'
digital-TV signals to consumers.

They also discussed instituting a copyright-protection standard that would
protect high-value, original digital content from being copied either onto
videotapes or the Internet.

Finally, broadcasters again asked lawmakers to write a law that would require
television manufacturers to include a digital-TV tuner in every new TV set,
which would allow all consumers to receive digital TV over the air.

The session was called by Reps. Billy Tauzin (R-La.), Fred Upton (R-Mich.),
John Dingell (D-Mich.) and Ed Markey (D-Mass.), the top members of the House
Energy and Commerce Committee and its Telecommunications and Internet

The heads of top industry trade associations attended, including the National
Association of Broadcasters' Eddie Fritts, the National Cable &
Telecommunications Association's Robert Sachs, the Motion Picture Association of
America's Jack Valenti and the Consumer Electronics Association's Gary

Others present included Association of Public Television Stations president
John Lawson, Association for Local Television Stations (ALTV) general counsel
Bob Branson, CBS senior vice president Martin Franks, Wiley, Rein and Fielding
founding partner Richard Wiley and Intel Corp. top engineer Brendan Traw.

Sources said Tauzin plans to call another meeting with the same parties in
three or four weeks. Thursday's session preceded a hearing on digital TV planned
for Oct. 17.