FCC Chairman: Delaying Digital Transition Is Not A Good Idea

LAS VEGAS (AP) -- Postponing the turnoff of analog TV broadcasts beyond the scheduled date, Feb. 17, could confuse consumers, the chairman of the Federal Communications Commission warned Saturday.

President-elect Barack Obama's transition team on Thursday asked Congress to delay the shut-off. The main reason the team cited was that the Commerce Department earlier in the week ran out of money for the coupons that subsidize the cost of the converter boxes which allow older analog TVs to receive digital signals.

In an interview at the International Consumer Electronics Show here, FCC chairman Kevin Martin said it's important to make sure that the converter box subsidy program gets back on track, but that doesn't mean delaying the analog turnoff is necessary.

"There are options they can do without having to delay to get coupons flowing immediately," Martin said. Congress could give the program additional funding, or eliminate the 90-day expiration deadline on the coupons, he said.

"I'm concerned about a delay in the sense that if you can solve that issue other ways, a delay has actually the potential to confuse consumers," Martin said. "All of our messaging has been about Feb. 17 - not just ours - the industry's."

The Feb. 17 date has been widely advertised by local TV stations.

The date of the transition and the terms of the coupon program were set by Congress. The FCC, as the broadcast regulator, has an important role in administering the transition.

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  • by Mike Location: Edenton on Jan 12, 2009 at 03:04 AM
    Belle: What vouchers for cable TV? The only vouchers are for those with antennae. Cable service is not affected. You obviously don't pay attention. BUT I feel like "the annointed one" will be mico-managing everyone's lives, even those who see him as the anti-Christ. The History Channel has been running a series on Armageddon. The Mayan's according to their calendar and prophecy predicted the end of the world at the end of 2012. That coincides with Nostradamus and others. That will also be the end of the annointed one's first term. BETTER GET RIGHT!!!
  • by Rob Location: NC on Jan 10, 2009 at 09:17 PM
    FCC- Facist Censorship Commission.
  • by Homer Gladstone Location: beechtown on Jan 10, 2009 at 03:46 PM
    How could the FCC go against the annointed one's request. Will this be percieved as racist, or just ingorance on the FCC's part. This deadline has been in place well over 5 years, and here's everyone waiting for the government to hold their hands once more. Any one that is already on digital TV loves it. I'm not talking about satilite or cable, but free air signals. you get a whole lot more channels even over the air.
  • by Clifton Location: Washington on Jan 10, 2009 at 02:20 PM
    I wonder if it would have been less expensive on the Feds IF they had just mailed out PAPER coupons to buy the converters instead of the hard plastic credit card coupons and WHY didn't they make the coupons available online for people to print out at home, saving on the cost of the coupon program to start with.
  • by Belle Location: Winterville on Jan 10, 2009 at 02:15 PM
    With all of the problems facing this country, why do our leaders find it necessary to provide vouchers for cable TV? Nice priorities, Washington.

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