CEA: DTV Delay Could Erode Trust in Government

Consumer Electronic Association boss Gary Shapiro wrote the Omana transition team Thursday to oppose any delay to the DTV transition, saying it will do little to help the transition succeed and will confuse viewers and cost money.

It could even lessen Americans’ faith in their government, he said.

“A change in the date could engender skepticism, confusion and distrust the next time the government asks them to undertake specific actions in anticipation of a major event," Shapiro wrote.

Also, CEA said, the government might consider allowing the converter box coupons to go toward the purchase of digital TVs, should the supply of boxes run out.

Shapiro noted that 95 percent of Americans are already prepared for the transition—a figure that would leave just 15 million Americans still getting it together.

He also said a delay would not solve any shortfall in the supply of converter boxes, which the National Telecommunications and Information Administration has pegged at 2.5 million or more. Instead, he said a delay could suppress demand and leave retailers stuck with a surplus.

CEA also noted that some converter boxes are going to people who don’t actually need them to keep a TV on.

CEA said its research finds that 9 percent of U.S. television households (about 10 million) are entirely dependent on over-the-air TV, with 63 percent (6.7 million) planning to take advantage of the coupon program (or already have.) Assuming 1.9 TVs per household, that’s a total need of 13 million boxes from these households.

“Any other purchases of converter boxes using the government’s coupon program are by households that do not actually need a converter box to continue watching television after February 17," he said.

Instead of delaying the full-power analog shutoff, Shapiro said the government should consider enabling the NTIA to issue more coupons, eliminate the 90-day expiration date for coupons, allow coupons to be used for DTV purchases in the event of a box shortfall, and other steps.

The Obama suggestion for a DTV delay has been met with mixed reactions in Washington and beyond. TV Technology columnist Doug Lung outlined some of the technical issues that might arise from a delay in this item from RF Report.