FCC Chairman Kevin Martin Tuesday repeated his suggestion that
broadcasters install additional transmitters to fill in blank spots in DTV
He briefly mentioned such a plan at a Sept. 16 hearing in
the House, leaving vague the question of whether this might become a mandate
for broadcasters whose signals leave holes. Tueday (Sept. 23 )at the Senate Commerce
Committee, he said he was talking about getting the broadcasters to put in
That was in response to a line of questions from Sen. Amy
Klobuchar, D-Minn., about losing channels to the “digital cliff,” as well as
the hazards of rooftop antenna installation in Minnesota in February.
Martin said it was impossible to exactly predict who would
be subject to picture loss because of the “digital cliff” effect, but that such
viewers would be at the edge of the stations’ contours and only 1 percent of
viewers would have such problems. Last week, he said 15 percent of all markets
could see some loss of a station or more. Martin said that inside stations’
coverage contours, people would have no problems. But he also mentioned
analyzing coverage and finding and fixing blank areas.
The hearing was sparsely attended because many senators were
at other meetings concerning the administration’s debt bailout package.
Martin said only 1.2 percent (2,272) of the Wilmington, N.C.,
market called the FCC hotline with problem. (Hundreds more called local
broadcasters.) Some have compared those call-in numbers to the number of
over-the-air viewers in the Wilmington DMA—about 14,000—and concluding that
more than 10 percent of over-the-air viewers called in.
Committee Chairman Dan Inouye, D-Hawaii, said even
“Herculean” efforts in Wilmington
led to thousands of calls.
“Feb. 17 is the 29th day of a new administration,” he said.
“Neither a President Obama or a President McCain should have to deal with a
Martin said some of the Wilmington calls led to direct help from FCC
engineers to install converter boxes.