GOP Lawmakers Accuse Democrats of Digital TV Panic

By Roy Mark  |  Posted 2009-01-14 Print this article Print

title=To Delay or Stay the Course} 

Rep. Rick Boucher, the new chairman of the committee, was unavailable for comment due to a family illness.

Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.), chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee, said Jan. 13 he was working on legislation to delay the transition by at least three months.

"While there are claims that hundreds of millions of private-sector dollars have been spent making Americans aware of the DTV transition, it seems that most Americans have no idea what it really is even if they have heard of it," Rockefeller said on the floor of the Senate Nov. 20. "New surveys suggest more consumers are growing aware of the transition, but consumers overall remain confused about what steps they need to take to prepare. Consumer Reports magazine has found that 63 percent of Americans have major misconceptions about what steps they need to take to prepare."

Sen. John Ensign (R-Nev.) said Jan. 12 the Senate should stay the course for the transition.

"Congress should quickly eliminate the coupon shortage. If additional funding is needed, Congress should provide it. It will be less disruptive to fix the coupon program than to delay the transition date," Ensign said. "Let's do what needs to be done to address this, rather than take the easy way out and delay the transition date."

According to a Nielsen survey conducted at the end of November 2008, 93 percent of U.S. households had at least one television set prepared for the transition and 83 percent had all of their televisions prepared.

The Digital Television Transition and Public Safety Act of 2005 requires full-power television stations to cease analog broadcasts and switch to digital after Feb. 17. The Act authorized NTIA to create the TV Converter Box Coupon Program, which is funded from the proceeds of the 700MHz auction held in 2008.

The analog airwaves being deserted by broadcasters will be used by first responders and for advanced wireless services such as the delivery of third- and fourth-generation wireless broadband.


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