A coalition of film and entertainment leaders, high technology companies, and consumer advocates today called on TV broadcasters to modify their controversial digital television proposal.
The coalition is endorsing calls by the White House and FCC for a cooperative solution that would give consumers greater choice, pictures and sound faithful to the original, and better technology at a more affordable price.
Meanwhile, supporters of the "Grand Alliance" standard today are in closed-door sessions in Washington, D.C. organized by the broadcast industry.
"The White House and FCC have sent a clear message to all sides: get together and agree on digital TV standards that are good for consumers," said Oscar Award-Winning actor Richard Dreyfuss. "It's time for broadcasters and TV set manufacturers to work with us to resolve the serious problems with the proposed 'Grand Alliance' standard."
Leaders from film, entertainment, high tech and consumer groups have warned that adoption of the entire "Grand Alliance" proposal would unnecessarily cost consumers billions of dollars, lock-in inferior technology, slow the convergence of television and personal computers, reduce competition, and continue showing movies on TV in an inferior fashion.
The coalition, Americans for Better Digital TV, reads like a "who's who" list of entertainment and high technology companies and organizations.
The Americans for Better Digital TV coalition includes: the Directors Guild of America; the Computer Industry Coalition on Advanced Television Service; the Media Access Project; the International Photographers Guild, Local 600, AFL-CIO; the American Society of Cinematographers; Digital Theater Systems, LP; the Todd-AO Corporation; Artist Rights Foundation; Panavision International, LP; the American Homeowners Foundation; the Computing Technology Industry Association; the Business Software Alliance; and a number of computer hardware and software companies including Compaq Computer Corporation, Apple Computer, Inc., Intel Corporation, and Microsoft Corporation.
Hundreds of Hollywood directors, cinematographers, actors and producers have joined the effort, including Steven Spielberg, Clint Eastwood, Arthur Hiller, Martin Scorsese, Dustin Hoffman, Sydney Pollack, and Robert Zemeckis.
"We are ready to work with other industries to find a common approach," said Eckhard Pfeiffer, President and Chief Executive Officer of Compaq Computer Corporation. "I feel certain we can find solutions that are broad enough to suit the needs of all the players, and forward-looking enough to enable future applications."
Senior Administration officials, including President Clinton, have called on both sides to resolve their differences. "The best standard would be one developed by and supported by all the affected industries, which could then be endorsed by the FCC," the President said in the September 23, 1996 issue of Broadcasting & Cable. "We want to make sure that there are no roadblocks to future compatibility between television and computers."
"This new technology will let us show movies at home as they are seen in the theaters," said distinguished director Martin Scorsese, a vice president of the Artist Rights Foundation. "We will no longer have to tolerate the mutilation of films when they are shown on TV."
"We strongly support efforts to bring digital television to American homes," said Bill Gates, Chairman and CEO of Microsoft. "Unfortunately some critical parts of the 'Grand Alliance' proposal would unnecessarily slow the convergence of PCs and televisions. Getting these standards right is vital to achieving the digital future where consumers will be able to watch television on their PCs or access the Internet from their TVs."
"Making the right decisions on audio and video standards are not only in the best interests of consumers and the creative community but will be essential to the continuing competitiveness of broadcasters as technology advances. The failed attempt to establish a conventional analog HDTV standard in a rapidly evolving technical environment should be a lesson to all concerned," said Terry Beard, Chairman of Digital Theater Systems.
"Progressive scan is already the standard for the computer industry and we expect it to also become the standard for other consumer electronics, such as television," said Dr. Donald Norman, Vice President of Research at Apple Computer, Inc. "Rather than lock in old technology, new digital TV standards should allow the greatest flexibility for innovation and technological development."
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