One hearing on DTV won’t cut it for John Dingell (D-MI), chairman of the influential House Committee on Energy and Commerce. On 10/17/07, he’s hauling in the FCC, the NTIA and the GAO, and then on 10/31/07, he wants to hear from various stakeholders. "The transition from analog to digital television is looming, said Dingell. "We need to ensure that the transition itself will be smooth and that Americans are prepared with the proper equipment and instructions. While the switch to digital promises to enhance news and entertainment alike, it will be cumbersome if broadcasters and consumers are not ready." Dingell’s close associate and head of the key Subcommittee on Telecommunications and the Internet Ed Markey (D-MA) said, "If done correctly, the transition to digital television will be a boon for consumers and the future of wireless communication. These hearings will help focus federal efforts on this critical transition and should encourage consumer education to help prepare Americans for the switch." Markey’s subcom will actually be holding these hearings. Invitees to the first will include the FCC’s Kevin Martin and NTIA’s John Kneuer. The representative from GAO has not yet been identified, nor have any of the potential witnesses for the 10/31/07 session.
TVBR/RBR observation: Former Senate Commerce Committee Chair John McCain (R-AZ) was fond of quoting the late Mo Udall, whose hearing lament was that everything that could possibly have been said on a topic had been said, but everyone hadn’t said it yet. We’re rapidly approaching the point where every committee that can possibly hold a DTV hearing will find an excuse to hold one, regardless how far a field it is from the committee’s ordinary area of oversight. Still, there is nothing wrong with an abundance of caution on this topic, and if legislators can shake some extra cash out of the US Treasury to put toward the effort, so much the better.