Washington

Obama Asks Congress to Delay DTV Transition

Problems with the DTV-to-analog converter box program and "inadequate funding" were factors 1/08/2009 07:15:00 AM Eastern

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The DTV Countdown: Complete Coverage of the DTV Transition

Markey: Feb. 17 DTV Date May Have To Move

President-elect Barack Obama has asked Congress to extend the Feb. 17 DTV transition date.

Citing problems with the DTV-to-analog converter box program and "inadequate funding" of government DTV education programs, John Podesta, co-chair of the Obama-Biden transition team, requested that "the cut-off date for analog signals should be reconsidered and extended."

That is according to a letter (click here to view) being sent Thursday to the chairs and ranking Republicans on the House and Senate Committees overseeing communications (The House Energy & Commerce Committee and Senate Commerce Committee).

Saying that only 28 days after the inauguration Americans would wake up to find their analog TV's no longer able to receive an over-the-air signal—and pointing to the decision on the date made in 2005 and implemented by the outgoing administration—Podesta urged them to "consider a change to the legislatively mandated cut-off date."

He said that funds to support the conversion are "woefully inadequate," particularly to address the problems of seniors and low income viewers.

He also suggested that there would be money from the president-elect's economic recovery package that would help address the funding shortfalls.

Consumers Union, which called for a similar move Wednesday after consultation with the transition, has suggested moving the date as well.

Brandon Burgess, chairman and CEO of Ion Media, the nation's largest station group owner with 60 outlets, said that given the Obama request, there is a "serious chance" that the date would move.

He said that, personally, "it was disappointing. It's a lot like studying for an exam. Once you have studied, it doesn't really help to get an extra day."

Burgess noted that there has been a billion dollars of promotion that has gone into the transition. "It doesn't get any better with an extra four months," he said.—Glen Dickson contributed to this report.

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