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Pursuant to a congressional request, the GAO identified the uses for high-definition television (HDTV) technology, focusing on the potential effect that the selection of an HDTV production standard would have on the development of non-entertainment applications in the United States.
The GAO found that: (1) although many of the HDTV applications were in the television, motion picture, and consumer electronics industries, HDTV had potential applications in such areas as defense, medicine, and space exploration; (2) many researchers and manufacturers proposed HDTV systems based on widely varying production standards, since U.S. industry had not agreed on a single HDTV standard; (3) the HDTV systems developed in the United States used from 787.5 to 1,200 scanning lines, the Japanese industry agreed on 1,125 scanning line systems, and European countries formed a consortium to work toward a single HDTV production standard; (4) some industry officials believed that if computer graphics, entertainment, research, medicine, and other applications shared a common HDTV standard, the volume would justify mass production and reduce costs; and (5) most of the current applications were for independent closed-circuit systems with independent methods and standards for production, transmission, and display.