Computer industry representatives will help frame the regulations US digital TV stations must follow, a decision that has enraged broadcasters.
The Clinton administration has ruled that the convergence of IT and television means representatives from both industries will be invited to advise the US government, provoking angry reactions from TV set manufacturers and broadcasters alike.
In a coup for the IT industry, US Commerce Department secretary Larry Irving said: "Persons from the broadcasting, computer and other industries will be considered to sit on the panel that decides what TV stations must do to obtain digital TV licences."
Eddie Fritts, president of the US National Association of Broadcasters (NAB), wrote to Vice President Al Gore on Wednesday, asking him to appoint the panel exclusively from TV industry advisors. In the government?s reply, Irving told Fritts the bad news but said: "Let me assure you that no decision has been made as to any member of the committee or its chairperson."
A NAB representative described the government?s decision as "blatantly unfair", unless IT companies are forced to adhere to public interest commitments before broadcasting anything, as TV companies have been for 40 years. He described IT companies as competitors, showing that the TV industry views the threat from computer companies with interests in digital TV - including Compaq, Intel and Microsoft - very seriously.
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