House set to mark up DTV extension


One of the first acts of the House Energy and Commerce Committee under new chair Henry Waxman (D-CA) will be a mark-up session on a bill to extend the DTV transition along Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) lines. Watchdog COAT supports the measure.

It would move the transition to 6/12/09, with a similar extension of the analog nightlight time frame. The three-month expiration term on digital-to-analog converter box coupons would be replaced with the date 9/15/09. It would also provide for first class postage to hasten the passage of coupons from NTIA to their intended recipients.

Meanwhile COAT, a coalition of organizations for people with various disabilities, also supports an extension, saying there are still many unanswered technical questions on things like close captioning and other special programming elements, not to mention simple hook-up challenges facing all over-air consumers. COAT stands for Coalition of Organizations for Accessible Technology.

RBR/TVBR observation: This legislation has already run into trouble in the Senate, where Republicans are using procedural measures not available to House Republicans to block the change of date. Let’s hope the blockade holds and the date goes as scheduled, to minimize broadcaster expense (at a time when they can little afford it), to say nothing about the cost of massive consumer confusion if the date is switched. We understand everybody’s case of nerves, but contend that most of the reasons for anxiety will still be there in June. So let’s just do it.