01.18.2008 12:00 AM
House Telecom Panel to Hold Another DTV Hearing
Get your stories straight. For the fourth time in the 110th Congress, the House Telecommunications Subcommittee will hold a hearing on the status of the DTV transition Feb. 13.

"As the one-year countdown to the DTV transition approaches, it's time to make sure every American household will be able to take advantage of the great benefits this transition promises," said Rep. John D. Dingell (D-Mich.), Chairman of the House Commerce Committee, which includes the telecom panel. "Right now, I am not confident that government agencies, retailers, broadcasters and all other stakeholders are taking all the steps necessary to ensure consumers are adequately informed and ready for this transition. The committee will continue its oversight of the DTV transition process until the big day arrives and afterwards, if needed, to ensure consumers are not left behind."

Witnesses have not yet been announced, but the hearing announcement promises focus on consumer access to digital-to-analog set-top converter boxes.

One possible witness: Meredith Attwell Baker, interim boss of the National Telecommunications and Information Administration, which is in charge of the program to deliver $40 coupons to consumers for the converters. Baker succeeded John Kneuer, who resisted Congressional calls for a task force, DTV czar, or similar single entity to coordinate federal efforts on the transition before he left the NTIA Nov. 30 for a private sector job.

The hearing is just one of several events in Washington planned in January and February to address the transition, and the converter box issue in particular.

Jan. 24, the NTIA will hold a meeting among federal agencies to discuss their work on the transition. The FCC will hold a workshop Dec. 31 on the DTV concerns of rural and tribal communities, and another Feb. 28 on ensuring that consumers with disabilities are prepared for the DTV transition.

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