10.22.2007 11:00 AM
Lawmakers remain fearful of DTV digital disaster

Members of Congress pressed again last week for tighter mandates on preparations for the analog TV shutdown.

Sen. Daniel Inouye, D-HI, chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee, warned in a hearing on DTV issues that the nation may be facing a “digital disaster” if the government doesn’t take some control over the transition.

Gaining the support of his committee vice chairman Ted Stevens, R-AK, Inouye called for the creation of a DTV task force modeled after one proposed earlier by Democrat FCC commissioner Jonathan Adelstein.

Noting that what works in one region of the country may not work in another, Inouye proposed there be the equivalent of “block captains” in each TV market to aid viewers in retaining over-the-air television reception after the analog shutdown in February 2009.

At an earlier House hearing on DTV last week, FCC chairman Kevin Martin proposed mandating broadcast public service announcements. He recently circulated an order to the other commissioners that would require broadcasters to air PSAs “throughout the day” and to file quarterly reports on their DTV education activities.

Martin also wants to require cable and satellite providers to provide bill stuffers with DTV educational materials, and to require receiver manufacturers to provide information to consumers at point of sale.

In regards to Adelstein’s proposal for a DTV task force, Martin responded negatively, saying he had no plans to create such a group.

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