DTV, the Costly Chaos Continues

By February 16, 2009Communications, Technology

A commenter makes the point that the DTV transition was far more than just an inconvenience as we suggested in drawing a comparison to the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act.  Noted and reaffirmed by today’s news.

From today’s Washington Post, Federal City Digest column:

Nearly 500 television stations told the Federal Communications Commission last week that they intended to go ahead and change to digital broadcasts tomorrow, the deadline for the switch they had been planning around for three years. But when Congress postponed the deadline, moving it to June 12, the FCC said it reserved the right to prevent stations from switching on the earlier date if it posed a public safety threat to particular markets.

The FCC initially responded that it would not let 123 stations switch tomorrow, our colleague Kim Hart reports, primarily because every major commercial station was planning to switch in some markets, potentially throwing consumers without digital-enabled TV sets into the dark about important public safety information and news alerts. It then amended that number to 106…[snip]

Net result: Fifty-three stations made such moves and will switch early, 10 are in limbo pending hardship appeals, and 43 must wait.

For a market-specific report, the Duluth News-Tribune has a good column, observing “Broadcasters worked a year or longer, and at great expense, not only to inform the public but to explain how to connect converter boxes or how to take other necessary measures…The intervention of Congress turned what had been a well-planned, well-publicized transformation into confusion and chaos.”

From conference report to H.R. 1, the economic stimulus bill.

DIGITAL-TO-ANALOG CONVERTER BOX PROGRAM For an amount for ‘‘Digital-to-Analog Converter Box Program’’, $650,000,000, for additional coupons and related activities under the program implemented under section 3005 of the Digital Television Transition and Public Safety Act of 2005, to remain available until September 30, 2010: Provided, That of the amounts provided under this heading, $90,000,000 may be for education and outreach, including grants to organizations for programs to educate vulnerable populations, including senior citizens, minority communities, people with disabilities, low-income individuals, and people living in rural areas, about the transition and to provide one-on-one assistance to vulnerable populations, including help with converter box installation.


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