WASHINGTON - Television viewers who crave the crisp， clear pictures of digital TV got a boost Thursday when the government ordered manufacturers to include the technology in all midsize models by next spring.
The Federal Communications Commission（FCC） voted 4-0 to require televisions with screens from 25 inches to 36 inches be digital-ready by March 1. That is four months earlier than the commission decreed in 2002.
The commission also proposed moving the deadline for all small TVs — those 13 inches to 24 inches — to the end of 2006， rather than mid-2007， as had been set. That proposal， which also applies to DVD players and other devices that can receive a TV signal， will be voted after a period of public comment.
Electronics retailers and manufacturers had asked two changes： scrapping of the July 1 deadline for 50 percent of new midsize TVs to have digital tuners and moving up of the final compliance deadline to next March instead of July 1， 2006.
The 50 percent threshold applies to each manufacturer or importer.Retailers and manufacturers said this July's deadline was slowing the transition to digital because consumers were continuing to buy more of the traditional analog TVs， which are less expensive.
The FCC acknowledged those market concerns. But the agency refused to budge on the 50 percent deadline. Instead， commissioners decided to use the request to speed up the overall transition from analog to digital.The proposed 2006 deadline to have all TVs larger than 13 inches equipped with digital tuners would coincide with the target date Congress has set for ending analog transmissions.
“We need to push the transition to its conclusion as expeditiously as possible，” Commissioner Kathleen Q. Abernathy said.Broadcasters hailed the decision. Edward O. Fritts， chairman of the National Association of Broadcasters， said it was “a powerful pro-consumer mechanism for moving the digital television transition forward.”