Senate Commerce Chair Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) says we should delay the DTV transition, and ABC Network thinks that would be cool; Ranking Member Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX) says no. Key Rep. Markey is open to change, but at least recognizes that it would be difficult. NTIA says it’s been holding up its end. NAB and News Corp. are happy that everybody is acknowledging just how important broadcast television is.
Here is who is saying what:
* Rep. Ed Markey (D-MA): “Moving the transition date entails significant logistical challenges. However, the prospect of leaving millions of consumers in the dark requires Congress to immediately consider the feasibility of the President-elect’s proposal. In addition, Congress should move quickly to address the needs of the millions of Americans currently on a waiting list for coupons to purchase converter boxes. The Bush administration left us with insufficient notice to address this critical problem on anything other than an emergency basis. The Congress should immediately pass legislation providing for an exemption to the Antideficiency Act. This would make it possible for an additional 8 million Americans to receive coupons. I will work with my colleagues on this and other steps to protect consumers as quickly as possible.”
* Sen. Key Bailey Hutchison (R-TX): “I am concerned about moving the date of the upcoming digital television transition. We need to focus on a solution to the coupon shortage. Shifting the date this close to the transition, without a sound plan to share information about the new transition date, will likely result in significant confusion. I share concerns about the availability of coupons and pledge my support in working with my colleagues to find a solution to this problem.”
* Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-WV): “I’ve long believed that there is too much at stake for consumers and for public safety to simply cross our fingers and hope for the best when it comes to the digital television transition. Millions of Americans could be left in the dark if this doesn’t go smoothly. The Obama Administration deserves time to bring order to what has been an appallingly mismanaged process by the Bush Administration. I look forward to reviewing the details of the Obama Administration proposal with my colleagues, and will support delaying the current date of the DTV transition until we can do it right.”
* NAB President/CEO David K. Rehr: "Today’s announcement from President Obama’s transition team reaffirms the importance of free and local broadcasting in the fabric of American life. NAB looks forward to a continuing dialogue with the new White House and new Congress to ensure a successful DTV transition."
* NTIA’s Meredith Attwell Baker: “While we have reached a temporary limit on the number of coupons we can issue, we expect to be able to issue several million additional coupons during the course of the program, and we are working with Congress to make that happen. Since the program began in January 2008, NTIA has urged households to apply for coupons as soon as possible, so they can be fully prepared by February 17, 2009. We have been communicating with Congress throughout the Program and advised as early as November 6 that coupon demand may hit the $1.34 billion obligation limit by mid-January.”
* News Corporation statement: “News Corporation supports any efforts to ensure that the transition to digital television is a success. Our first concern is what’s best for our viewers, and we believe that the Obama-Biden Transition Team shares our concern. We look forward to continuing to work with the Administration, Congress, and the FCC to achieve a smooth DTV transition.”
* ABC Television Network: "As many of our viewers would lose their ability to access broadcast information and entertainment, ABC supports the call to delay the DTV transition."
* Consumers Union, from a letter to Henry Waxman (D-CA) and Ed Markey (D-MA): “We believe Congress should consider delaying the transition until a plan is in place to minimize the number of consumers who will lose TV signals, particularly by fixing the flaws in the federal coupon program created to offset the cost of this transition…The federal government will receive over $19 billion as a result of the DTV spectrum auction. Millions of consumers could now be forced to spend their own money to navigate this federally mandated transition. This economic climate is not the right time to ask consumers to dig deeper into their own pockets to pay for the miscalculation by the federal government. Consumers need assistance to navigate the transition at the lowest cost.“
RBR/TVBR observation: Since we have another story, we’ll make another point. You can put off the dentist visit – brush more, floss more, eat apples, chew dentist-approved gum, and guzzle gallons of fluoride. The dentist is still going to do what has to be done, and that may mean inflicting some pain. The Obama administration and Congress can and should throw last minute cash at the DTV transition, but in no way should they put if off. The answer is simple: Confront the inevitable.
PS: TV local radio can help you tremendously getting the word out to all communities so talk to the. Now is the time that TV and Radio should work together and form a new business model and partnership.