High Definition Television:

The Effects of Standards on U.S. Entertainment Industries

IMTEC-90-33: Published: Mar 16, 1990. Publicly Released: Apr 26, 1990.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO assessed the effects of high definition television (HDTV) on domestic television transmission standards.

GAO found that: (1) the U.S. motion picture industry could convert 35-millimeter film movies and television programs to accommodate HDTV standards; (2) production equipment manufacturers would likely manufacture multiple lines of HDTV equipment to meet different standards; (3) production equipment managers believed that the lack of a single standard would not greatly affect their business; (4) the U.S. entertainment industry's efforts to adopt a single worldwide HDTV production standard had been unsuccessful, but the lack of a standard did not negatively affect movie and television marketing; (5) U.S. broadcasters and television manufacturers believed that it was imperative to adopt an over-the-air transmission standard, since that was the U.S. primary transmission medium; (6) successful HDTV transmission technology had not been fully developed; (7) the lack of a standard could place broadcasters at a competitive disadvantage with respect to cable and satellite companies; (8) even with a standard, broadcasters might not be able to transmit an acceptable television picture because of regulatory and technical constraints; and (9) because of the closely linked transmission system, television manufacturers needed to know what transmission system would be used in order to manufacture the appropriate equipment.

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