Gattuso Testifies on Future of Digital Television

Washington, D.C., March 1, 2001 – In testimony presented today to the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, Competitive Enterprise Institute Vice President James L. Gattuso urged Congress and the Federal Communications Commission to do what is best for consumers and taxpayers and rely on market forces in determining how digital television is to be adopted in the United States.<?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = “urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office” />


“The debate over advanced television has been a long-running one for the FCC and Congress, and the issues are complex,” said Gattuso. “The answer to this problem, however, is not new regulation to punish broadcasters or mandate the use of preferred technologies. Instead, policymakers should look for ways to use market mechanisms to ensure the best use of the spectrum resource.”


The main question in the debate over the adoption of digital TV is how limited frequencies will be allocated. Currently, many broadcasters hold licenses for both analog and digital frequencies, waiting until enough households have access to digital receivers before relinquishing their analog frequencies for reallocation. As long as broadcasters are waiting, however, extremely valuable blocks of spectrum that could be used by a variety of technologies are sitting unused.


Regulators have several options in guiding this process, including requiring that new sets be digital compatible, requiring broadcasters to return their analog frequencies by a given future date, and allowing other broadcasters and wireless providers to negotiate among themselves for use of the spectrum. The last is by far the most efficient mechanism. “This voluntary approach creates a win-win situation for all involved. The new wireless licensees receive access to spectrum much more quickly, allowing consumers to more quickly benefit from those services,” said Gattuso.



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