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Dingell supports DTV transition date

In discussing the NTIA coupon program Monday, Rep. John Dingell, D-MI, chairman of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, clarified comments he made last month in which he said it might be necessary to delay the shutoff of analog TV transmission beyond February 2009.

"I support the digital television transition date of February 2009," he said.

However, Dingell said the NTIA's limiting of households eligible for the converter box coupon program "may impede a smooth transition, which could delay both getting spectrum to public safety users and the benefits of advanced wireless technologies to consumers."

While the NTIA has said its program will make converter box coupons available to all U.S. households, the number of coupons is tied to specific allocated sums. Once those funds are used up, the coupons will be limited to households that self-certify they don't receive television from cable, satellite or some other source.

Dingell's comments were aimed at the Bush administration's previous opposition to Democrat efforts to "secure sufficient funding in favor of more tax cuts."

"If the Administration believes additional funds are needed to prevent consumers' television sets from going dark, then it should ask the Congress for such funding," he said.