[opendtv] Dingell Blasts Delays to Digital Transition

  • From: Tom Barry <trbarry@xxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: opendtv <opendtv@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Wed, 28 Feb 2007 08:12:11 -0500

From <http://www.tvweek.com/news.cms?newsId=11618> via AVS:

- Tom

February 27, 2007
Dingell Blasts Delays to Digital Transition
By Ira Teinowitz
Increasingly unhappy with the pace of the transition to digital, and promising that if it isn't righted soon "a scapegoat will be found" and "people will be voted off the island," Rep. John Dingell, D-Mich., hinted the scheduled Feb. 17, 2009, switchover date may need delaying.

Story continues below...

Dingell, the House Energy and Commerce Committee chairman, on Tuesday addressed the National Association of Broadcasters' state leadership conference. He said he's concerned that with 10 months to go before consumers start requesting $40-off coupons for converters that let their analog TVs see digital signals, the Federal Communications Commission has yet to set standards for those converter boxes; the National Telecommunications and Information Administration has yet to provide firm guidelines for allocating coupons; and broadcasters have not fully launched their transition information campaign.

"The average American will be annoyed to buy a $50 converter to keep a $100 television working," he said.

He called informing viewers about the conversion "no small task" and said the progress so far is "regrettably not sufficient to avoid raising Americans' ire."

During the speech, Dingell also accused the Bush administration of a "limited appreciation" of the complexity and sensitivity of the transition."

A delay in the date of the digital switchover would have major effects, potentially costing the government millions of dollars-some of the bandwidth offered by analog channels has already been sold in auctions-to say nothing of the impact on cable providers and broadcasters.

Rep. Dingell told reporters after the speech that he hasn't made a firm decision on pushing back the date, but he's growing increasingly restless about the transition's handling.

"I think we are going to have to see," he said. "I think we are going to have to fix a date that makes sense and [reflects]l that the other things that have to take place in order to make that date work are being done."

Rep. Dingell also questioned in his speech whether the FCC had done enough to outline the public-interest obligations of broadcasters on new multicasting channels. He said the committee would be closely watching the outcome of broadcasters' negotiations with cable providers for retransmission rights.

(Editor: Horowitz)
Tom Barry                       trbarry@xxxxxxxxxxx     
Find my resume and video filters at www.trbarry.com

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