Congress Wants More Info From NTIA

 Although a new administration will be coming into office in January, political appointee Meredith Attwell Baker, acting head of the National Telecommunications and Information Administration, can’t consider her work done just yet.

Reps. John Dingell (D-Mich.), the House Commerce Committee chairman, and Ed Markey (D-Mass.), chairman of the House Subcommittee on Telecommunications and the Internet, have asked Baker to answer a list of questions about remaining issues in the DTV converter box coupon program.

Among the open questions from the congressmen is whether or not Baker supports community groups and others using their own identities to get coupons and then donating them to the needy or hard-to-reach or those whose coupons have been lost in the mail, those who live in facilities (such as nursing homes) without their own personal address and those whose coupons have expired.

Noting a potential surplus in coupon funds, they asked several questions about repealing or waiving the limit on coupons (currently just one) that households with cable and satellite can order.

They also ask, based on the experience with the early analog shutoff in Wilmington, N.C., how many coupons are estimated to have been lost in the mail during that switchover, and in general how many coupons does NTIA estimate, by percentage, are being lost in the mail nationally.

The lawmakers gave Baker until Oct. 31 to provide answers.