DTV momentum pointing toward the summer?


CEA president Gary Shapiro has reiterated his preference to do the DTV deed on time, but Commissioners Copps and Adelstein gave legislators a laundry list of problems they think are unresolved, and the House takes up the issue today.

Shapiro argued that the educational effort has brought consumer awareness of 2/17/09 to near 100%, and any change would only engender confusion.

Michael Copps and Jonathan Adelstein, on the other hand said that while consumers may be aware of the transition, their education has lacked enough information on what they need to do about it. In their letter, they limited themselves to a few issues and said there was much more they could bring up if they wished to come up with a comprehensive list of DTV transition regulatory inadequacies. They noted efforts to delay DTV-Day, and said it would be meaningless unless serious efforts are made in the interim to address various issues.

Henry Waxman (D-CA) and his House Energy and Commerce Committee will be marking up a bill today to move the transition to 6/12/09. Similar efforts have been going through the Senate under the stewardship of Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) but have been blocked by Republican senators.

The 6.5% of so of ill-prepared consumers are at risk for loss of broadcast television service. After that, individual television station operators have the most to lose – they’ll be looking at spending more cash to keep side-by-side analog and digital operations in place for as long as the delay stretches out. Meanwhile, broadcast networks and some organizations have been in favor of or quiet about accepting a delay.

RBR/TVBR observation: There is talk that the Obama administration knows that at a minimum there will be problems and they do not want to face the transition set up by the previous administration (and Congress) without taking a crack at it themselves. Concerns are doubled for representatives from the nation’s northern regions, where it will be desirable not to force people onto icy roofs to install or adjust antennae. The bottom line is that even if a strong case can be made to execute the transition on 2/17/09 as planned, forces for some kind of delay are snowballing and may be impossible to resist.