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Valenti Breaks Ranks on HDTV

November 14, 1996|JUBE SHIVER Jr.

WASHINGTON — The head of the Motion Picture Assn. of America urged federal regulators Wednesday to ignore objections from Silicon Valley and Hollywood to nationwide digital TV standards.

In a four-page letter to the Federal Communications Commission, Jack Valenti, chairman of the MPAA, broke ranks with film director Steven Spielberg and Microsoft Corp. Chairman Bill Gates, chiding their industries for seeking last-minute changes in a proposed digital TV standard that Valenti said has already been extensively debated.

"I wish to correct the misimpression that all of the Hollywood community opposes the" proposed standard, Valenti wrote.

The letter introduces a new twist in a decade-long effort to introduce digital TV technology, which proponents say would allow a new generation of TV sets to display cinema-like video and crystal-clear sound.

A digital television standard first proposed three years ago by an alliance of broadcasters, television manufacturers, consumer electronics firms and a handful of computer companies has been languishing for months at the FCC, following lobbying this summer by Microsoft and a coalition of Hollywood actors, directors and cinematographers.

They contend that the proposed standard works poorly on computers and can't accommodate some ultra-wide-screen films.

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