Key senators weigh in on DTV


Dan Inouye (D-HI), chair of the Senate Commerce Committee, fears that the DTV transition scheduled for 2/17/09 could be an “albatross” for the next president. Meanwhile, Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX), ranking member while Ted Stevens (R-AK) fights off corruption charges, praised an updated converter box coupon policy providing access to holders of P.O. boxes and residents of nursing homes.

Inouye believes the current administration has not done enough to assure that the transition will proceed without major hitches, and foresees particular problems on the horizon for minority and low-income groups. “I am troubled that a bipartisan and noncontroversial public policy goal, intended to help our emergency first responders better serve and protect the American people, may end up as an albatross around the neck of our next president,” said Inouye. “I must say that if I was the person responsible for ensuring a successful transition for Sen. Obama or Sen. McCain, I would be deeply concerned.”

Meanwhile, Hutchison praised Commerce Secretary Carlos M. Gutierrez for expanding the scope of the coupon program. “I commend Secretary Gutierrez for adding this much needed flexibility to the DTV converter box coupon program,” said Senator Hutchison.  “This will assist the thousands of Texans who receive their mail through post office box delivery or live in nursing homes to prepare for the digital television switch next year.”

RBR/TVBR observation: There is a corollary to Murphy’s Law that states something to the effect that no matter what goes wrong, there will always be somebody who knew it would. Inouye has carefully positioned himself to be that person. We are frankly glad that one of his preferred actions – formation of an intergovernmental task force to oversee the process – did not happen. That would have simply been another prime venue for the output of hot air. We’re coming to believe the two best things government can do is to provide for at least a week or two of analog messaging with broadcast TV recovery information for those who miss out in the transition, with funding for people to be on the other end of the phone when these people call in. That is how we’d ask Inouye to expend his energy.