TV antennas getting congressional attention

Last week Sen. Bernard Sanders, an independent from Vermont, said the FCC has failed to warn over-the-air TV viewers that they may need new antennas to get DTV reception and that the commission has inaccurately downplayed the likelihood of the necessary modifications to those antennas.

The senator asked the FCC to begin an education campaign alerting over-the-air households of the possible need for a sensitive rooftop antenna. He also said the federal government should consider subsidies for antenna replacement.

Sanders cited the study by Centris, a consulting firm, which said the FCC had underestimated the homes that would need antennas to receive over-the-air signals. He also cited a study of the digital transition in Britain that said that 35 percent of consumers would need to buy new antennas.

“Americans should not be forced to pay for cable, satellite or other telecommunications video services to get their free broadcast channels,” Sanders wrote in a letter to the FCC, “because the government did not properly plan for this transition.”

Sanders, who is from Vermont, noted it was dangerous for viewers to install outside antennas in very cold weather. He envisioned the risk to senior citizens trying to climb onto the roof in the Vermont winter.