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JUNE 22, 1999  10:39 AM
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT:
People for Better TV
Mark Lloyd, 202-887-0301, or Phil Sparks, 202-326-8700
Group Calls for Public Hearings Before FCC on Digital TV
 
WASHINGTON - June 22 - People for Better TV, a coalition of dozens of pediatrician, consumer, religious, and civil rights organizations, met today with Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman William E. Kennard to urge the FCC to follow the mandate of the 1996 Telecommunications Act and hold public hearings to establish a "digital public interest standard" as the nation makes the transition to digital TV.

In the wake of national concern over violent media programs, People for Better TV specifically urged the Chairman of the FCC to take action by putting tools in the hands of parents. The coalition supports an independent, easy to understand ratings system for violence, sexual content and inappropriate language. On June 3, 1999, the coalition petitioned the FCC for public hearings noting that "any proceeding must be on as fast a track as the timetable set for digital broadcasts. Digital broadcasts are already being transmitted to viewers in over two dozen markets and television set manufacturers are establishing standards for receiving new equipment. These transmissions and technical considerations must take into account public interest services to parents, children, and the disabled."

Representatives of the Consumer Federation of America, American Academy of Pediatrics, U.S. Catholic Conference, NAACP, Civil Rights Forum on Communications Policy, National Organization for Women, National Association of the Deaf, Project on Media Ownership, and League of United Latin American Citizens met with Chairman Kennard here today to urge public hearings.

"It is the interest of both the viewing public and the broadcasters that some clear and enforceable set of standards are developed by the appropriate body to determine the public interest, convenience and necessity standard to be applied to digital broadcasts," said People for Better TV. "The FCC hearings should be held immediately, and regulations should be in place no later than this November when stations in the top thirty markets are mandated to begin digital service."

People for Better TV believes that the FCC should also consider:
-- limits on commercials during children's programming;
-- closed captioning for handicapped people;
-- measures to protect consumers' privacy as digital TV moves to two-way communications; and
-- more programs serving local needs and interests.

The coalition said that it had established a Web site for the press to obtain more information about the group and for the public to file an electronic petition with the FCC at www.bettertv.org

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