[opendtv] News: Reps Seek Digital-Decision Delay

  • From: Craig Birkmaier <craig@xxxxxxxxx>
  • To: OpenDTV Mail List <opendtv@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Tue, 7 Dec 2004 08:05:38 -0500


Reps Seek Digital-Decision Delay

By Bill McConnell -- Broadcasting & Cable, 12/6/2004 10:30:00 PM

A group of lawmakers representing mostly rural or African-American 
districts Monday asked FCC Chairman Michael Powell to delay a vote on 
his plan to accelerate the transition to all-digital TV. 

   The lawmakers are worried that Powell will ask his fellow FCC 
commissioners to vote on the plan next week. "Surely there can be 
several months of congressional debate and input on this critical 
matter during the first quarter of next year," wrote Reps. G. K. 
Butterfield, D-N.C.; John Lewis, D-Ga.; Mike Ross, D-Ark.; Bernie 
Thompson, D-Miss.; Marion Berry, D-Ark.; and Bob Etheridge, D-N.C. in 
a letter to Powell.
The plan, developed by FCC Media Bureau Staff, would set Jan. 1, 
2009, as the date when TV stations must give up their old analog 
channels and operate all-digital. To continue receiving TV service at 
that point, viewers would need to subscribe to pay TV, purchase a 
digital set or buy converters that will keep old analog sets working.

  Under current FCC rules the TV stations won't be obligated to go 
all-digital for another decade or so.

  Powell envisions Congress subsidizing the cost of converters for 
low-income Americans, but only Congress has the power to sanction 
such a program. "We do not see any substantive language in the Media 
Bureau Plan that would protect low income consumers from losing their 
analog television service or any provision to assist them with making 
the conversion to digital without the purchase of expensive digital 
equipment which so many minorities cannot afford," the lawmakers 

  Despite the lawmakers' worries, some FCC officials and industry 
lobbyists say no vote on the plan is slated for this month, and even 
a vote in January is unlikely.  But staff for the lawmakers say 
rumors persist that Powell will attempt to bring the matter to a vote 
with only a few days notice.

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