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More politicians factor jobs into HDTV criteria

Powerful House Democrats Richard Gephardt and John Dingell are urging the Federal Communications Commission to weigh the potential for jobs creation when it selects a final U.S. standard for high definition TV.

Gephardt, the House Majority Leader, and Dingell, House Energy and Commerce Committee chairman, offered a little-noticed “sense of the House” resolution March 18 urging the FCC to “consider domestic employment” in the selection of the HDTV standard, “particularly in the event competing systems are technologically equivalent.”

The entry of politics into the selection of the HDTV standard has raised eyebrows within the broadcast industry, which is anxiously awaiting word on whether just one of four competing HDTV standards will be picked or whether a “grand alliance” of all four will be formed.

Job creation has emerged as an HDTV issue in part because of a pledge by one of the four competing applicants — the Advanced Television Research Consortium — to build all HDTV sets in the U.S. if its standard is selected. ATRC’s partners include two foreign firms, Thomson Consumer Electronics and North American Philips, along with NBC and the David Sarnoff Research Center.

Another HDTV finalist is a project partnered by Zenith and AT&T. Though both firms are headquartered in the U.S., Zenith makes most of its TV sets in Mexico.

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