For Immediate Release
Monday, January 24, 2000
Contact: Art Brodsky
 (202) 482-0019
Ranjit deSilva
(202) 482-7002

Assistant Commerce Secretary Rohde Announces NTIA Inquiry
For Local-Into-Local Technology

NEW ORLEANS, LA.,---The Commerce Department's National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) will soon start a wide-ranging public inquiry to help make certain that television viewers in small, rural and underserved markets aren't left behind, Gregory L. Rohde, Assistant Secretary for Communications and Information and head of NTIA announced today.

"Consumers in rural and small broadcast markets could fall on the wrong side of the digital divide unless steps are taken to ensure that communities have access to local news and information through new technologies," Rohde said in announcing the initiative at the convention of the Association for Local Television Stations (ALTV) in New Orleans. Rohde said: "NTIA is committed to preserving the tradition of localism, especially to local news and information."

He noted that Congress is expected later this year to consider legislation promoting the delivery of local broadcast signals into rural and smaller markets. Last year, Congress for the first time allowed satellite carriers to rebroadcast local television signals into local markets. However, existing satellite carriers have said that this service likely won't be available in smaller markets for some time.

The purpose of the NTIA request for public comment is to explore whether there are additional options to ensure that viewers in unserved and under-served communities can receive the benefit of local news and information through new technologies. The notice will seek suggestions from the public on how to ensure that rural and small local broadcast programming can be delivered over technologies, including satellite.

Rohde said that NTIA's inquiry will be complementary to any congressional or FCC action, noting that setting up a satellite television service, one option discussed by Congress last year, is a long and expensive process, even under the best of circumstances. "We're trying to look at ways to help fill in the gaps and to look at all options as a means of sustaining localism in rural and small markets that could be considered," Rohde said, adding that NTIA's role will be to collect ideas and to stimulate discussion of the issues surrounding their use.

The specific comment date will be provided when the Federal Register notice is published, which is expected by mid-February. Comments and reactions will be posted to the NTIA Web site. NTIA also is planning to hold a roundtable discussion in March, mid-way through the comment period.

Note: This press release can also be accessed from the NTIA web page at and also at the digital divide website at