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1/9/2008
03:03 PM
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FCC Won't Change Digital TV Deadline, Chairman Martin Vows

Critics, including dissenting FCC commissioners, have said the transition should be made incrementally to allow for testing, as has been done in Europe.

Federal Communications Chairman Kevin Martin said it will be difficult for broadcasters to meet the February 2009 deadline for the transition to digital television, but he indicated the government will not change the deadline.

Martin said Tuesday during a panel at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas that postponement would create a disincentive for the industry.

It was the second time in less than two weeks that Martin took a hard line on the schedule. The FCC announced rule changes on New Year's Eve that would allow broadcasters to phase out or end analog signals before the Feb. 17, 2009, deadline. The commission also said it will require broadcasters to provide progress updates in February and October.

When the rules were released, Martin said the commission would review progress updates, assess progress, and "take whatever actions are necessary to ensure that the digital transition remains on track."

Critics, including dissenting FCC commissioners, have said the transition should be made incrementally to allow for testing, as has been done in Europe.

Martin said Tuesday that the FCC must keep to its schedule so companies can confidently begin to phase out analog signals.

He made his appearance at CES, the first time that all FCC commissioners attended the show, according to organizers.

"We welcome all five FCC commissioners and are thrilled to have Chairman Martin back to the International CES as an Industry Insider, and look forward to hearing his views on the upcoming DTV transition and other key issues facing our industry," CEA President and CEO Gary Shapiro said in a statement. "Chairman Martin's support of industry competition and the furthering of technology innovation provides every American with greater access to consumer technology products and services."

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