Engel Pans Powell Plan


Rep. Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.) is worried about the Powell plan to redefine digital-TV penetration.

In a letter to Federal Communications Commission Chairman Michael Powell last week, Engel said he is concerned that Powell's proposal  to speed the takeback of analog spectrum by counting cable customers who receive a digital signal converted to analog toward the 85% household penetration threshold will disadvantage the poor. "I am concerned that such a proposal would require the poorest Americans to pay "aficcianado prices" for the new TV's or set-tops," he wrote.

In addition, he says, the proposal "will create a disincentive for the American consumer to purchase digital televisions, discouraging manufacturers from mass production and widely marketing [sic] of these products."

Powell has proposed that the government subsidize those set-tops, but given the budget crunch, that part of the proposal could be DOA.