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ALEXANDRIA, VA, MARCH 12, 1999 – Satellite Broadcasting and Communications Association (SBCA) President Chuck Hewitt made the following statement today with regard to attempts by the National Association of Broadcasters to portray the "white area" issue as having now been satisfactorily resolved.

"The agreement between DIRECTV and the networks that was announced today was simply designed to end litigation between the parties. While important, it is nothing more than a timetable for terminating distant network signal service to those subscribers who are found not to qualify to receive those signals. Unfortunately, those subscribers will be disqualified based upon an outmoded Grade B signal strength standard adopted by the FCC in 1952."

"SBCA will continue to press vigorously for the enactment of S. 303, sponsored by Senators John McCain and Conrad Burns. The McCain-Burns legislation takes into account the need for satellite consumers to have access to broadcast network programming. It also avoids disenfranchising consumers who cannot receive local broadcast signals with an outdoor rooftop antenna."

"Furthermore, important issues still remain if Congress is to finally resolve this burning consumer crisis. Consumers need and deserve a SHVA signal reception standard to replace the outmoded 1950’s Grade B standard. Also, a more precise and updated point-to point predictive methodology is needed that will more clearly and precisely identify consumers who qualify to receive distant network signals. We continue to support legislation offered by Congressmen Billy Tauzin and John Dingell, H.R. 851, recently passed by the House Telecommunications Subcommittee, that directs the FCC to implement rules in both of these vital areas."

The Satellite Broadcasting and Communications Association of America (SBCA) is the national trade organization representing all segments of the home satellite industry. It is committed to expanding the utilization of satellite technology for the broadcast delivery of entertainment, news, information and educational programming. The SBCA is composed of DBS service providers, programmers, equipment manufacturers, distributors, retailers, encryption vendors, and national and regional distribution companies.