Markey, Inouye express DTV doubts


A new GAO report indicates that 68% of US television stations are pretty much ready to rock and roll when the DTV deadline hits on 2/17/09. But that leaves 32% that are not, which elicited concerned commentary from two key members of Congress. According to Telecommunications and the Internet Subcommittee chair Ed Markey (D-MA), the tardy 32% generally face one or more of  these tasks: a. Physically install or relocate digital or analog antennas; b. Construct new broadcast towers; c. Find funding to complete equipment upgrades ; and/or d. Coordinate with cable and/or satellite companies. “It remains vital that those broadcasters who have lingering or looming technical issues, including adjustments to tower and antenna apparatus, have plans in place to address them now while there is still ample time. We must also ensure that the FCC remains on top of these issues and works with industry to address them to ensure overall success.” Senate Commerce Committee chair Daniel Inouye added, “Finally, I would note my ongoing and deep concern that while industry is, at a minimum, fully informed of the upcoming transition and aware of the potential pitfalls, the same cannot be said for consumers. Far too many Americans are unaware of or unprepared for February 17, 2009.  As this report demonstrates, there is no one-size fits all message that will adequately educate consumers.  It is imperative that all stakeholders in the DTV transition, both public and private, work together to ensure that local communities are fully informed and prepared for the transition, and that no consumer is left in the dark.” Inouye expressed additional concern that some stations not yet at full DTV power may have to abandon their analog signal early, possibly disrupting service at least temporarily to some viewers.