APTS says DTV turnoff date could be recipe for disaster

Pulling the switch on analog television before the resolution of carriage rights and a plan to deal with analog viewers is a recipe for disaster, said John Lawson, president and CEO of the Association of Public Television Stations (APTS), in testimony before Congress last week.

Lawson said the nationwide shutoff would entail an enormous information campaign and the mobilization of converter box production on a wartime scale.

In comments before the House subcommittee examining a hard turnoff date, Lawson cited the experience of KCSM-TV, a public television station serving California’s Silicon Valley. Despite a thorough campaign effort, many of their over-the-air consumers, especially elderly ones, were left without service.

Given this experience, Lawson urged caution, and suggested returning the spectrum a few markets at a time.

Earlier in the year, Lawson proposed a plan where APTS stations would voluntarily give up their analog spectrum by 2007 under three conditions: guaranteed cable carriage, low-cost converter boxes and a limited trust fund to produce content.

So far, none of his conditions have been met.

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