Barton, Stearns Ask Pelosi To Delay DTV Vote
Invoked 9/11 and Osama Bin Laden in their plea
By John Eggerton -- Broadcasting & Cable, 1/27/2009 2:56:27 PM
Republicans were ramping up their opposition to moving the DTV transition date Tuesday.
In a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), ranking Energy & Commerce Committee member Joe Barton (R-TX) and ranking Telecommunications Subcommittee Member Cliff Stearns (R-FL) invoked 9/11 and Osama Bin Laden in their plea to call off the House vote on a Senate bill to delay the date to June 12.
The bill passed in the Senate Tuesday and is expected to pass in the House as well, but Barton was not going down without taking a few more swings. Earlier in the day, Barton issued a report from Republicans on the broadband stimulus package that also took aim at the initiative to move the date, calling it a potential disaster.
“Our public safety sector has been pleading since 1996 for access to the broadcast spectrum that would be freed up by the DTV transition, and which they need desperately for emergencies like 9/11,” wrote Barton and Stearns. “Instead they’ve become like the fictional refugees who got as far as Casablanca in the ’40s, only to ‘wait, and wait, and wait.’ Osama bin Laden isn’t fictional, and he isn’t waiting. That should be reason enough to go full speed ahead with the DTV transition. Instead we’re suspending the rules in order to wait, and wait, and wait?”
Barton and Stearns put in a plug for the Barton bill--H.R. 661--introduced last week--which would free up DTV-to-analog converter box coupons without changing the date. "We stand ready to work with you to quickly pass H.R. 661 or something similar so that those consumers who have requested a DTV converter box coupon can get one before the February 17 deadline. We need to keep our promise to public safety officials, wireless providers, broadcasters, and the American people."
"Waiting another half year [the delay is actually four months] also will not move a single television viewer off the coupon waiting list," they argued.
The only advantage in delaying the analog switchoff would be that those who need to put up the right antennas on their roofs, and stations that may have to build repeaters to fill in the "dead areas" where their analog signals work but digital fails, would have better weather in April or May to do so. But most folks want this to happen Feb. 17 as planned. It just doesn't make sense to have to spend more to change the TV ads and keep those analog towers going for four more months.
90 miles north of me is Sioux City, IA where, in Sept. 1967, a new CBS station signed on on UHF. All summer there were ads in the paper asking viewers to buy new sets or UHF converters and antennas to be ready. And most of them got ready, because they didn't want to lose Walter Cronkite or the rest of the Tiffany lineup. Please tell the house and Obama to veto this bill. I've been ready for months. Others will learn to fix it quickly if they lose their signals. Stay with Feb 17. Please!
David Johnson - 1/27/2009 3:34:37 PM EST
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