The Federal Communications Commission moved a small step closer last week to authorizing two new consumer services that could make profound changes in the home entertainment and information market.
The commission voted 6 to 1 to gather public comment on a proposal to permit authorization of teletext service and leave the decision on the precise nature of the service up to broadcasters. Teletext is an over-the-air electronic system that transmits data to television screens.
American Telephone & Telegraph Co., newspaper publishers and others are interested in videotext, a similar product delivered to screens over cable or telephone lines, but a continuing debate about technical standards has left this nation's development of the service well behind that of European government and private concerns.
The commission also voted 5 to 2 to narrow the field of applicants for the nation's initial direct-broadcast satellite service, a programming mechanism that would beam shows directly to satellite dishes on consumers' rooftops.
The competition for FCC authorization for DBS was narrowed from 14 to 9 as the commission threw out five applications because of problems with financing, technological or other details.
Nevertheless, the commission still is considering proposals from other major communications companies such as Communications Satellite Corp., the first applicant; CBS Inc.; RCA Corp., and Hubbard Broadcasting. Comsat began the rush for DBS service by formally applying late last year.
The agency, however, still must decide among those applicants for a limited-frequency space available for the program. The agency said it is unlikely that the service could be authorized in final form before frequency allocation plans are finalized at a 1983 world radio conference.