Detroit Mayor Joins the DTV Deadline Debate

Weighing in on the DTV deadline is the latest fashion statement. The mayor of Detroit has now joined the din, telling the federal government to delay the Feb. 17 shut down of analog broadcast television, the Detroit Free Press reports. His Honor Mayor Ken Cockrel, Jr. is said to have addressed a letter to FCC Commissioner Michael Copps, saying too many seniors, poor folks and first-generation immigrants would be left without television.

“The City of Detroit is overrepresented in terms of these vulnerable groups,” he said. Cockrel said Detroit’s reliance on over-the-air TV was above the national average, though according to Nielsen figures from last November, around 89 percent of TV homes there have cable or satellite.

Talk of delaying the end date was launched when a public interest group in Washington, D.C. suggested it last week after the federal government ran out of money to subsidize digital-to-analog converter boxes. The issue has been snowballing ever since. Consumer Electronics Association chief Gary Shapiro was the latest lobbyist to weigh in, sticking to his position that, basically, no one will notice anyway. In a letter to John Podesta, a transition gun for the incoming administration, Shapiro said most Americans have cable or satellite, and 63 percent have a digital TV. So what’s the big deal?

Podesta last week sent a letter to key lawmakers, advocating a deadline extension until the public was better prepared.