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Groups Happy (Dingell Not) With NTIA Final Box Rules

It's not too often you see these particular trade groups all agree on the same thing, especially when it comes to the DTV transition, but the parties that make up the DTV Transition Coalition issued a joint statement this week agreeing to say something nice about the National Telecommunications and Information Administration, which issued its final rules for the February 2009 transition deadline.

The NAB, NCTA, CEA, APTS, MSTV and others said the NTIA's actions "move the nation closer to the all-important transition to digital television. These new rules establish the parameters for a program that will allow consumers to request government-funded coupons for use in obtaining discounted access to digital-to-analog converter boxes. NTIA is helping to ensure that no American is left without access to over-the-air broadcast television when the nation transitions to digital television on Feb. 17, 2009." Well, almost "no American," according to a powerful member of Congress.

Rep. John Dingell (D-Mich.), who chairs of the House Energy is not too pleased with the Bush administration-backed rules because it disqualifies homes with any DBS or cable sets from being eligible to receive federal money to purchase boxes, even if those dwellings have OTA-dependent analog sets.

Dingell, whose tenure in Congress is going on half a century, vented earlier frustrations over some aspects of the transition and, specifically, some DTV consumer education efforts (to be headed by NAB and other groups) at the recent NAB State Leadership Conference in Washington, according to TV Technology.

But the coalition of trade groups said it "recognizes the importance of a carefully crafted converter box program" and its members will work towards educating consumers to ensure as smooth a transition as possible.