House Subcommittee on Telecommunications and the Internet Chairman Ed Markey (D-MA) is concerned about key aspects of the DTV transition and is weighing the possibility of swift Congressional action to call in the cavalry. He praised the FCC and NTIA for quick responses to his recent request for a DTV update, and noted with concern a possible gap in converter box coupon availability, the availability of actual boxes at retail outlets and lack of a cohesive plan for post-transition consumer call centers.
“The challenged posed by the DTV switch cannot be underestimated,” he said. “I am pleased that the FCC and NTIA responded promptly to my request for a status update. The expected surge in consumer demand for converter box coupons is occurring and the fact that NTIA now projects it will have to delay or possibly deny the issuance of converter box coupons to consumers without additional funding is of great concern. Moreover, lingering consumer confusion over aspects of the transition and an apparent lack of converter box availability and call center capability pose additional threats to success the transition.”
Markey continued, “I will carefully review these responses but it is becoming increasingly clear that at minimum Congress may need to quickly pass additional funding for the converter box program in early January to prevent any delay in coupon availability or issuance.”
RBR/TVBR observation: Markey should be considering swift action on call centers. Everybody agrees they will be a key element of the transition, but no one person or entity seems to have authority to coordinate this effort. And that’s not to mention funding it. To its credit, the NAB has offered to sponsor a center, but this is the government’s job. But a coherent government strategy should have been set up long ago.