From "acting" to "exiting"


The NTIA is charged with running the digital-to-analog converter box coupon program portion of the DTV transition, but it is undergoing a good bit of transition itself. John Kneuer, otherwise known as the Assistant Secretary of Commerce, Communications and Information, and head of the NTIA, left that position last November. His replacement, Meredith A. Baker, who hasn’t shed the "acting" from that title, is shedding the title rather than the adjective.

She appeared before the House Subcommittee on Telecommunications and the Internet just last month, detailing plans for the year. For example, NTIA is tracking shipments of actual boxes to retailers by zip code, and keying its release of coupons to them so that consumers looking to put the coupon to use find something on the shelf of their nearby electronics outlet.

TVBR/RBR observation: The NTIA has minimal other DTV responsibilities. Broadcasters and other stakeholders seem to be carrying the weight on public education, and the FCC is both keeping an eye on that effort and also recently received a budget allocation of 20M to do a little publicizing itself (an amount, by the way, which pales in comparison to the amount broadcasters will be pouring into the effort). Baker testified that the system for getting the coupons out there is in place. A particular challenge will be making sure that boxes with analog pass-throughs are available in those markets where there is over-the-air viewership of low power TV or translators. We suspect that the powers that be will quickly move someone up from the ranks to keep the program running and adjust on the fly as need be.