Robert Wright

"Every single television set in America--all 200 million of them- will be obsolete" if Congress carries out current proposals to accelerate the date to make high-definition digital television mandatory, the president of the National Broadcasting Company said at an NPC luncheon June 22, 1995. Robert Wright, the top man at NBC, added that the cost to the public will exceed $100 billion. He said converter boxes to get digital programming would cost consumers an estimated $500 each. Plans call for stations to be loaned a second channel so they can broadcast in both the old and new services. When the transition is complete, all broadcasts will be transmitted digitally. The spectrum that broadcasters currently use would be returned to the government which could auction it for new uses, raising new revenue. A "sensible transition" would take 15 years, Wright said, but 10 years is being pushed. He said it is critical to have "legislative assurances that consumers have the same easy access to free, over-the-air broadcasting that they have today." Wright also assailed proposals that would levy a tax on only TV broadcasters when other industries, such as cable TV and long-distance telephone services, use far more frequencies than the entire TV industry. National Press Club Record, Volume XLV, No. 25. June 29, 1995.

The National Press Club Luncheons are brought to you by the Internet Multicasting Service and our sponsors under an agreement with the National Press Club Board of Governors.