There is little sign that the federal agencies responsible for informing the American people of the DTV transition have a plan to do so, said Rep. John Dingell, D-MI, chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee.
Few Americans are aware of the nationwide transition from analog to digital broadcasting, which takes place in 20 months, Dingell said. The chairman fears there will be a “national uproar” when the analog cutoff takes place.
“The present lack of leadership, direction and focus at the federal level on informing and preparing Americans for the analog cut off may jeopardize the entire transition,” Dingell said in an article published last week in “The Hill.” “The key problem is that over the last decade, the Republican majority authored DTV transition laws that satisfied budget priorities instead of protecting consumers.”
Dingell said if action is not taken, the burden of the DTV transition would fall predominantly on poor, elderly and minority Americans. Sharply critical of the FCC, he noted that at a recent hearing, FCC Chairman Kevin Martin failed to even mention the transition in his prepared written testimony.
“The most recent budget request by the FCC seeks just $1.5 million to fund a consumer education program, which is less than the cost of a single Super Bowl ad [$2.6 million],” Dingell said.
Feb. 17, 2009, he said, will be a notable day. “Together, we can make sure it marks the beginning of a new era of enhanced broadcasting and communication and not a nationwide television blackout. We are warned. Let us act.”