Shapiro Downplays Low-Power Conundrum

Consumer Electronics Association CEO Gary Shapiro said the DTV transition is on track and he sought to calm critics concerned that some viewers will fall through the cracks.

“This isn’t about losing your homes,” he said in a speech to the Media Institute in Washington Feb. 28. “It’s about the potential loss of television service for a few people for a short time.”

Shapiro also slammed the drive by the Community Broadcasters Association to force analog pass-throughs on all coupon-eligible converter boxes. CBA has maintained that many viewers of low-power, Class A and translator stations will find they can no longer receive some local channels if they deploy boxes without the pass-through feature for the stations continuing analog broadcasts after February 2009.

In its petition to the FCC on the matter, CBA also maintains that the boxes without the pass-through—most of those approved for the coupon program—violate federal law requiring TV receivers to receive all available signals.

Shapiro called the group’s efforts “a roadblock” that would significantly disrupt the transition and the coupon program.

“CBA has entirely overlooked the fact that several of the current certified converter boxes offer an analog pass-through feature. This option allows those Americans served by low-power and translator stations to receive both digital and analog signals now and after the transition,” Shapiro said.