Last updated: February 21, 2008 - 11:06am
GAO SAYS US LACKS PLAN FOR DIGITAL TV SWITCH
[SOURCE: Reuters, AUTHOR: Peter Kaplan]
U.S. regulators have "no comprehensive plan" for preparing TV viewers for the approaching switch-over to digital television, a congressional study released on Tuesday said. The study by the Government Accountability Office took issue with the Federal Communications Commission for lacking an overall strategy for the February 17, 2009 switch, which will require broadcasters to change to digital signals from their traditional analog ones. "Despite efforts by the public and private sectors and ongoing coordination, we found that no comprehensive plan for the transition exists," the GAO said. The digital TV transition is being closely watched because owners of analog televisions will not be able to watch television unless they subscribe to satellite or digital cable, replace their TV with a digital television by that date or get a converter box. FCC Chairman Kevin Martin responded in a letter to the GAO, saying he had "significant reservations and concerns with the report's approach and conclusions." Martin also issued 99 pages of "comprehensive plans, goals and achievements" that the FCC had drawn up to address the digital TV transition. (see link below) In their report, the authors of the GAO study said Martin also told them that the FCC "does not have a formal plan in place that is publicly available, but that the various orders contained in FCC dockets amount to a plan."
* Digital Television Transition: Increased Federal Planning and Risk Management Could Further Facilitate the DTV Transition. GAO-08-43, November 19.
Highlights - http://www.gao.gov/highlights/d0843high.pdf
* GAO Report on DTV Transition Critical of FCC
* House Commerce Committee Chairman John Dingell (D-MI):
"I am deeply troubled by the report’s conclusion that the FCC does not have a comprehensive plan to guide consumers through the digital television transition. I believe the amount of preparation at all levels of government and industry to address the change and its consequences is hopelessly inadequate. The DTV transition will be successful only if all aspects of government are working together. If this does not happen, it will be the American people—particularly the elderly and poor—who will suffer when their televisions stop functioning."
* Dingell Troubled by GAO Report on Digital TV Transition
* House Telecom Subcommittee Chairman Ed Markey (D-MA):
"Today’s GAO report provides the latest high resolution picture of the transition underway. Given the high stakes for consumers, public safety, and wireless innovation posed by this transition, the GAO’s call for the FCC and NTIA to develop an overarching strategic framework for success is one that these agencies would do well to heed .... The GAO contends that simply providing a laundry list of completed regulatory tasks is not the same thing as having a comprehensive plan. I agree. The GAO is an arm of the U.S. Congress and I expect the FCC and NTIA to take the its recommendations with the utmost seriousness. The good news is that it is not yet too late to take concrete and corrective action along the lines recommended."
* GAO Report: DTV Transition Uncoordinated
Secretary of Commerce Carlos Gutierrez voiced concerns with a central command and control authority, saying, "The solution is not the establishment of a digital-transition czar or single government-mandated message."
* FCC Response to GAO Response
* FCC’s Martin Fires Back at GAO Report
"By failing to reproduce the commission's written comments in an appendix, the GAO's final report will be denying the commission an important avenue for expressing its view of the GAO's report,” FCC Chairman Martin said. He also pointed out that the FCC had spent about $500,000 to respond to GAO request for info, including producing more than 13,000 documents.
* FCC Commissioner Jonathan Adelstein: "This GAO Report confirms what I've been saying for well over a year. The FCC does not have a strategic plan for the DTV transition. There is not even a plan to come up with a plan. Only the FCC appears to be in a state of denial over what the GAO is telling us. Rather than making excuses, we need to come up with solutions. We need to establish an interagency task force now, and we need to reinstate our internal FCC working group immediately."
NTIA OKs RETAILERS FOR DTV COUPON PROGRAM
[SOURCE: tvnewsday, AUTHOR: ]
The National Telecommunications and Information Administration announced today that eight large consumer electronics retailers—Best Buy, Circuit City, Kmart, RadioShack, Sam’s Club, Sears, Target, Wal-Mart—along with more than 100 smaller ones have been certified to participate in the agency’s DTV converter box coupon program. The retailers operate more than 14,000 stores throughout the nation, said NTIA, which has been charged by Congress with administering the program. The program is “on schedule and will be ready to take consumers’ coupon requests starting Jan. 1, 2008, as directed by Congress,” said acting NTIA Administrator Meredith Attwell Baker. NTIA will begin distributing coupons to consumers beginning February 17, 2008.
* National Telecommunications and Information Administration press release
* NTIA to Begin Distributing DTV-to-Analog Converter-Box Coupons Feb. 17
* NTIA's Consumer Education Plan
* Coupons to be issued for digital converters
* Coupon plan is clearer for digital TV switch (Bloomberg)
* Swanni's 2008 Predictions: The Digital TV Disaster
Phillip Swann, president of TVPredictions.com, predicts the digital-to-analog converter box program, scheduled to launch in less than a month, will be a disaster. He says the people who need it most -- the poor and elderly -- remain unaware of the digital TV transition and, worse, even when they realize what's going on with the coupon program, they will be up in arms causing policymakers to rethink the transition.
- June 10 House DTV Transition Hearing recap
- Senate to Hear Update on Switch to Digital TV
- Chairman Markey Wants Some DTV Answers
- Increased DTV Awareness
- DTV Transition Oversight Hearing Recap
- DTV Transition Update
- FCC Adopts Digital Television Consumer Education Order
- NTIA Concerned About DTV Coupons, Converter-Box Supply
- LCCR: "Serious Problems" with DTV Switch
- House Hearing: Status of Digital Television Transition
- DTV Transition Oversight Hearing
- All Eligible for TV Converter Discount
- NTIA, Federal Partners to Hold Converter-Box-Coupon Powwow
- Martin Favors Renewable DTV Coupons
- Inouye Urges Agencies to Redouble DTV Transition Efforts