Key Rep. Ed Markey (D-MA) has given the FCC instructions to follow through on four major tasks to keep the DTV transition on track. The points are based on lessons learned in the Wilmington NC DTV test. The only thing Markey didn’t mention – funding. Here are Markey’s tasks, upon which he expects immediate action:
A. Establish a public/private/non-profit sector information campaign which focuses on the need for new antennas or adjustments to existing antennas to receive digital TV broadcast signals,
B. Encourage Americans to act now to buy and install a DTV converter box, test the reception, and then take action to resolve any problems as soon as possible,
C. Update information on the FCC’s website and other related government DTV websites to include in an obvious, accessible location a clear explanation of antenna matters, and
D. Expand the FCC’s call center, especially in the weeks immediately proceeding the transition, to address questions concerning antenna matters.
12 other members of Congress, representing both parties, signed on to the letter, which was sent to FCC Chairman Kevin Martin. Copies of it were also addressed to the other commissioners, NTIA’s Meredith Atwell Baker, and, significantly, to NAB President/CEO David Rehr, the only member of the private sector so honored.
RBR/TVBR observation: Markey might just as well instruct the FCC to go out and buy a digital television set for everyone who wants one. Expand the call center? Do you think Martin will be able to do that out of the petty cash fund? Congress recently signed off on an extra $20M in cash for the FCC’s public educational efforts. If we understood Martin’s testimony before the Senate Commerce Committee earlier this week correctly, that cash was requested just to buy advertising. Unless Markey paper-clipped a Congressionally-appropriated check to fund these requests, Martin won’t be able to do much more than he’s already doing.