[opendtv] Re: FCC Urges Analog Bypass for STBs

  • From: Craig Birkmaier <craig@xxxxxxxxx>
  • To: opendtv@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Sat, 12 Jan 2008 09:36:37 -0500

At 4:52 PM -0500 1/11/08, John Shutt wrote:
"but one other NTIA-certified set-top box manufacturer I spoke with was surprised to hear that there would be analog TV stations on the air after Feb. 17, 2009."



It gets even better!


You may have never heard of Meredith Atwell Baker, former deputy assistant secretary at the National Telecommunications & Information Administration, but she is in the digital hot seat. As acting assistant secretary for communications and information, it's her responsibility to administer the distribution of millions of $40 coupons the government will issue to consumers to be used toward the purchase of digital-TV-to-analog converter boxes.

She stepped into the breach just after Thanksgiving, following the abrupt departure of John Kneuer.

Q: What do viewers need to know about this transition?
A: They need to know that between Jan. 1 and March 31, households can apply for two $40 coupons online, that they can apply by phone at 1-888-DTV-2009 and that they can apply by mail. The word to get out now is that there is a big change in television coming Feb. 18, 2009, and people who have old televisions who receive free over-the-air broadcasting -- which means they are not hooked up to cable or satellite or another pay TV service -- have to make a decision. They have three choices. They can buy a new TV that's digital, they can subscribe to cable or satellite or another service, or they can buy a converter box. Otherwise, their television won't work.

Yesterday I talked with Greg Herman, a former president of the Community Broadcaster's Association (CBA) and owner of several Class A stations in Oregon. At times Greg has been a lurker on this list.

As some of you may be aware, the CBA is threatening litigation because of the potential harm to the low power industry because of the governments flawed DTV transition campaign and the oversight to add analog tuners or at least a pass-thru capability to the subsidized DTV converter boxes.

Greg noted that during a conversation with the NTIA's Baker in December, she was not even aware that thousands of low power stations and translators would continue to broadcast in analog after February 17, 2009. This, despite the fact that the NTIA subsidizes the operation of the translators. And in the B&C interview she said that televisions won't work without a converter box that most likely will block the ability to continue watching those low power stations and translators.

Needless to say, Greg is also upset with the spots that the full power stations are running that say that ALL televisions broadcasts must be digital by February 17, 2009.

The spots must be working, because DTV was a hot topic on a local i talk show yesterday afternoon. One guy said he had just purchased a handheld TV to receive emergency broadcasts if the power went out and he was incensed to learn that it would not work next year. He then went on to mention that virtually all of his conventional TV viewing is via his computer...

Another lady was incensed that she would have to start paying for Digital TV - that the government was taking away her free TV.

And another lady was trying to be helpful, telling the audience that the government was going to pay for "digital rabbit ears" for existing TVs...

So I had to put my two cents in and help educate our local radio audience...

The CBA has a strong case that they are being harmed by the actions of the NTIA and FCC. It remains to be seen whether these agencies will address these oversights in both the promos and the designs of the DTV converter boxes.


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