House Republicans Seek Info on GAO DTV Study

Barton, Upton Question Need for GAO Study in Wake of CEA Study 10/30/2007 11:00:00 AM Eastern

Top House Republicans suggested that a Government Accountability Office study on the digital-TV transition has its work cut out for it if it wants to match one already completed on the same subject by the Consumer Electronics Association.

Joe Barton

The ranking Republican members of the House Energy & Commerce Committee and House Telecommunications & Internet Subcommittee Tuesday requested a bunch of information from the GAO about its planned study of demand for digital-to-analog converter boxes.

The consumer-electronics industry's own study found that about 24 million analog sets will need the converters to still get pictures after the Feb. 17, 2009, conversion to digital broadcasting. The Republican-backed plan for a government subsidy of $40 toward the $60-$70 price tag for those boxes would cover about 33.5 million, so the industry study suggests that there is plenty of money to help everyone who will need it.

But the GAO -- which shares House Democrats' concerns about how the transition and subsidy are being handled -- said at an Oct. 17 hearing on the DTV transition that it would be doing its own survey.

In a letter to Mark Goldstein, the GAO staffer who relayed the agency’s concerns at the hearing, Reps. Joe Barton (R-Texas) and Fred Upton (R-Mich.) spelled out the extensiveness of the industry survey, in essence to suggest that the heavy lifting had already been done, and asked Goldstein who would be doing its survey, what methodology would be used, when it would be conducted and when it would be ready, seeking a response by Nov. 12.