No real surprises at DTV hearing


Senators routinely urged FCC Chairman Kevin Martin and outgoing NTIA head Meredith Atwell Baker to table all other concerns for the duration of the run-up to the DTV transition and give the transition their full attention. Commerce Committee Chair Daniel Inouye (D-HI) asked that monthly progress reports be made available to committee members, and Ranking Member Ted Stevens (R-AK) particularly asked that consideration of net neutrality issues be tabled. Martin noted that consumer awareness is getting much better, hitting 76% according to a recent poll, but admitted that much still needs to be done. He then outlined some of the things the FCC is doing, including aggressively going after retailers persisting in the sale of analog-only equipment and in publicity partnerships with a wide variety of entities such as professional sports leagues and ethnic groups. Baker noted that over 10M coupons for digital-to-analog converter boxes have been applied for. Under questioning, she said NTIA is working with low power facilities to make sure their particular viewers are aware of their need for a special box which includes an analog passthrough — she said the reason they weren’t made a universal requirement was that they would produce a poorer digital signal, would cost more and are not needed in all markets.