Fire Drill Delays DTV Transition Event

Speakers used down time during incident to further discuss transition


DTV 101 Video Series

DTV Countdown

The DTV transtion has taken a licking, at least metaphorically, but the clock keeps on ticking.

On the eve of the Newseum event marking 100 days until the Feb. 17, 2009 DTV transition date, the race car the FCC sponsored to promote the transition date crashed and burned, its

second race-ending accident

since it was emblazoned with the FCC's DTV transition message to the tune of several hundred thousand dollars.

Then, the highly-promoted event at the Newseum was delayed when a fire alarm went off just as NAB President David Rehr began his speech.

Event host David Gregory of NBC News, FCC Chairman Kevin Martin, commissioners Deborah Taylor Tate and Robert McDowell and a host of reporters and others marched down the stairs and onto the street, waiting 5-10 minutes before being allowed to file back in--a false alarm, apparently. Tate pointed out on her return that it was not 100 days until the DTV transition but in fact 99 days, 12 hours, 26 minutes and 41 seconds, holding up a countdown clock she says she keeps on her desk.

Several speakers used the opportunity to work the fire drill into the DTV transition theme. Gary Shapiro of the Consumer Electronics Association said everyone had been working together so well he didn't know who would have pulled the fire alarm. Martin said during his brief speech that one of the things the FCC had learned was to remind people to reset their DTV converter boxes so it could scan for new DTV channels. He thanked Rehr for setting up the fire drill to show how easy it was to reset [the press conference].

After the press conference, FCC Chairman Kevin Martin came just short of endorsing the crash involving David Gilliland, whose Ford car the FCC has sponsored for three races. "Except for the cars that win the races, the ones that are in wrecks get a log of attention during the race itself. From our perspective, obviously it would have been better if the person we had sponsored had won, I think they would have gotten even more. But absent that I think that they get quite a bit of attention when the cameras focus on them."

Martin joked that he did not ask him to crash deliberately. "What we are trying to do is get the message out. For me it is less of a concern, no offense to our driver, but what we are trying to do is make sure there is attention place on his car so we appreciate all of his efforts to do that."