GOP lawmakers oppose DTV delay, accuse Dems of panic

Roy Mark, eWeek

The Senate and House are drafting legislation to add funding for converter box subsidies and to possibly push the transition deadline for the changeover from analog to digital broadcasting by at least three months.

Republican lawmakers are balking over President-elect Barack Obama and Democratic lawmakers' call to delay the Feb. 17 digital television transition deadline. The legislation setting the deadline was passed by a Republican-controlled Congress in 2005.

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Outgoing FCC chair: 50/50 odds DTV date will move

John Eggerton, Broadcasting & Cable

The odds are about 50/50 that the Feb. 17 transition date will move.

That's according to FCC Chairman Kevin Martin, who offered that handicap in an exit interview for C-SPAN's The Communicators series.

But Martin said it was critical to take some action to fix the DTV converter box coupon program (Viewers seeking the $40 government subsidy coupons have been put on a waiting list due to a cap on funding). Martin was echoing concerns he has expressed to Congress and journalists. He said he told Rep. Ed Markey in the fall there might be a problem with coupon availability.

Martin said he thought that the coupon box problem could be fixed relatively quickly, and without moving the date.

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Telcos differ on DTV transition delay

Fawn Johnson, Dow Jones

The two largest wireless companies in the United States disagreed Monday about whether Congress should delay the Feb. 17 date when all TV stations must broadcast solely in the digital format.

Verizon Communications Inc. (VZ) Chairman Ivan Seidenberg sent a letter to lawmakers saying they should "resist" a recommendation from President-elect Barack Obama's transition team to move back the transition date.

AT&T Inc. (T) sent a letter to Capitol Hill saying it would support a "short extension" of 90 days or less.

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Martin: moving DTV deadline is a bad idea

Mikael Ricknäs, IDG News Service

Moving the February 17 deadline for the U.S. switchover to digital TV would create confusion, said Federal Communications Commission chairman Kevin Martin during a public interview at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas on Saturday.

Martin would prefer if Congress sticks to the planned date, and instead makes some changes to help speed up the transition.

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Former FCC chairs join call to postpone DTV shift

William Kennard, Michael Powell

The countdown clock is ticking on the digital television transition and it is becoming increasingly clear that the nation will not be ready. Analog television broadcasts are scheduled to stop on Feb. 17 and, after that, only digital signals are to be available. Then millions of Americans who rely on analog TV sets and antennas must start using converter boxes that will allow them to receive digital signals, or see only a black screen.

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Obama team asks Congress to postpone DTV switch

Kim Hart, Washington Post

President-elect Barack Obama's transition team today asked key members of Congress to consider delaying the nation's switch to digital television scheduled for Feb. 17, saying there is "insufficient support" for the problems consumers will experience during the shut-off of analog signals.

In a letter sent to Capitol Hill this afternoon, the transition team said congressional action is needed. The action would be the "first step" toward helping consumers get ready for the transition to digital television. It also called funds provided to support the conversion "woefully inadequate."

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Markey, Obama team: Feb. 17 DTV date may have to move

John Eggerton, Broadcasting & Cable

The DTV hard date appears to be softening.

Consumers Union (CU) late Wednesday asked the heads of the congressional committees with telecommunications oversight, as well as the current and future administrations, to consider delaying the Feb. 17, 2009 transition date.

And at least one of those key Congressional players, Rep. Ed Markey (D-Mass.), chairman of the House Telecommunications & Internet Subcommittee, says the date may have to move.

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Consumers group pushes for DTV transition delay

Consumers Union

Today the Consumers Union contacted House and Senate leaders along with President Bush and President-elect Obama to ask them to delay the nation's transition to digital TV - currently scheduled to take place on Feb. 17. The request for a delay comes days after the NTIA announced the collapse of their coupon program designed to reduce the financial burden of consumers preparing for the transition. Read on for the complete letter.

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Digital TV coupon program runs out of money

Ira Teinowitz, TV Week

In a new challenge to the digital TV transition, the government’s program offering $40 coupons for TV converter boxes is out of money, weeks faster than anyone expected.

The Department of Commerce today announced that it now has committed the entire $1.34 billion available for the coupons and is starting to put new requesters on a waiting list.

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Government's DTV coupon program may run out of money - soon

Bob Williams, Hear Us Now

In the latest in an ongoing series of eye-rolling developments, the government agency in charge of the digital television converter box coupon program – the Commerce Department’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration – said it will likely stop processing coupon requests as early as next week because it expects to run out of money.

Think about that for a minute. NTIA says it will stop processing coupons at the precise moment that consumers will be needing them most – the last few weeks leading up to the digital television switchover.

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