Seattle Mayor, City Council urge retailers to provide options for a no-cost DTV conversion

Reclaim the Media

Two weeks after a federal Digital TV coupon program effectively ran out of cash, elected officials in Seattle are asking retailers to do their part to help local consumers prepare for the upcoming Digital TV transition (currently scheduled for Feb. 17). Mayor Greg Nickels wrote to local electronics retailers asking them to carry DTV converter boxes at the low cost of $40-$45 (view letter here). All nine members of the City Council have following up with a similar letter.

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DTV coupon wait-list tops 2.5 million

John Eggerton, Broadcasting and Cable

The National Telecommunications & Information Administration's waiting list for DTV-to-analog converter box coupons continues to grow. As of midnight Wednesday, it had reached 2,527,839 coupons from 1,426,717 households, half of which (50.2%) identified themselves as over-the-air only.

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Bid to delay DTV switch runs aground in the House

David Hatch, National Journal

The House Energy and Commerce Committee abruptly scrapped a scheduled vote Wednesday on legislation aimed at postponing the nation's shift to digital television signals from Feb. 17 to June 12, a delay strongly opposed by panel Republicans.

The bill was drafted last week by Energy and Commerce Chairman Henry Waxman. It is a part of an 11th-hour push by Democrats in both chambers and the Obama administration to delay the problematic switchover to give some citizens more time to prepare.

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House panel cancels meeting on digital TV delay

Kim Dixon, Reuters

Democrats abruptly canceled a meeting on a bill delaying the nationwide transition to digital television signals, citing opposition from Republicans.

The U.S. House of Representatives Energy and Commerce committee had been due on Wednesday to consider legislation extending the transition date to June 12 from its current February 17 deadline.

Rep. Henry Waxman of California, the chairman of the committee, issued a statement on the cancellation referring to Republican opposition to a Senate version of the digital tv delay.

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Obama reiterates call to delay DTV transition

Kim Hart, Washington Post

President-elect Barack Obama's transition team sent a second letter to Capitol Hill today to re-enforce the push to postpone the Feb. 17 date of the nation's digital transition.

Last week, top aid John Podesta asked lawmakers to consider a delay to allow time to fix the backlogged converter box coupon program and provide more time and money to help consumers prepare for the shut-off of analog signals.

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Senate bill would postpone DTV switch to June 12

Leslie Cauley, USA TODAY

Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., incoming chairman of the powerful Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation, on Thursday proposed legislation that would delay the USA's switch to digital TV nearly four months, to June 12.

"I firmly believe that our nation is not yet ready to make this transition," Rockefeller said in a statement. Any extension also must be approved by the House.

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Obama proposed stimulus includes $650 million for DTV coupons - plus $6 billion for broadband

John Eggerton, Broadcasting & Cable

According to an outline of the elements of the economic stimulus package--specifically the American Recovery and Reinvestment Bill of 2009--the legislation contains $650 million dollars in extra funding for the DTV-to-analog converter box program.

There is also $6 billion in broadband and wireless grants to boost the rollout of Internet access to underserved areas, which will create business and job opportunities to boost the economy.

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Hawaii takes closely watched digital TV plunge

Mark Niesse, Associated Press

At noon sharp Thursday in Hawaii, a message appeared on analog TV sets across the islands: "All full-power Hawaii TV stations are now digital."

The state shut down old-fashioned broadcast signals, more than a month before the rest of the country is set to make the now-contentious switch.

Even before the change, residents lit up special TV help center phone lines set up by the Federal Communication Commission. More than 300 calls came in Wednesday, and 10 lines were lighting up Thursday.

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McDowell hammers Martin on DTV prep

Now FCC Chairman Martin is getting kicked by a commissioner from his own party.

Commissioner Robert McDowell, who could soon be the only Republican to the panel, added to the pile-on at the Consumer Electronics Show and in a letter on the eve of Martin’s final meeting as chairman, lambasting the commission’s preparation and coordination for a possible crush of inquiries just five weeks from the Feb. 17 transition date.

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4G war, conflicts of interest loom behind possible DTV delay

Julian Sanchez, Ars Technica

Last week, President-elect Barack Obama's call for a delay in the Digital TV transition, long scheduled for February, sent tech and telecom firms into a tizzy. Both Verizon and the Consumer Electronics Association have been pushing back hard against any postponement of the move from analog to digital broadcasting, while AT&T has joined the Consumers Union and several prominent Democratic legislators in supporting the call to give the troubled transition more time.

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The media's job is to interest the public in the public interest. -John Dewey