Tauzin Requests GAO Report on Berlin Analog Shut-off

Several ranking members of Congress have asked the General Accounting Office for a report on how officials in Berlin went about shutting down analog television signals. In a letter to the GAO dated Dec. 16, and signed by House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Billy Tauzin, R-La., John Dingell, D-Mich., Fred Upton, R-Mich. and Ed Markey, D.-Mass., the GAO was instructed to gather details as they might apply to an anticipated analog shut-down in the United States, tentatively scheduled at the close of 2006, including:

* How the Berlin television market is organized;
* How that structure differs from that of the United States;
* How Berlin rolled out DTV for over-the-air households versus pay TV households;
* Whether broadcast, cable and DBS providers are transmitting both SD and HD digital programming;
* Whether broadcasters are multicasting;
* The market availability and cost of digital televisions;
* The market availability and cost of digital-to-analog converter boxes designed to make analog televisions compatible with new digital broadcasts, and whether those converter boxes are compatible with multicasting;
* The extent to which the government subsidized converter boxes, how it financed any subsidies, and how, administratively, converter boxes were provided to households;
* The extent to which cable and satellite subscribers require new equipment to transition to digital television;
* Whether the DTV transition in Berlin is viewed as successful;