Kennard, Powell Join Call to Delay DTV Transition

Former FCC chairmen support moving Feb. 17 "hard date" in New York Times Op-Ed

Related: Obama Asks Congress to Delay DTV Transition

Former FCC chairmen William Kennard and Michael Powell have joined the growing chorus calling for the federal government to move the Feb. 17 DTV transition date.

In a jointly-written op-ed piece in Friday's edition of The New York Times, Kennard and Powell argue that there's not enough time to get DTV-to-analog converter box coupons to the people who still need them, and that the "government is also unprepared to handle the volume of calls from baffled television viewers once the switch to digital occurs." They also say there may be a shortage of set top boxes that could be severe—from 4 million to 31 million, they say.

Their comments concur with a rising chorus of nay-sayers, including the transition leaders for President-elect Obama, who on Thursday called for postponing the analog shutoff.

"There is no reason to rush toward a fiasco when we can just as well take the time to make sure the change happens smoothly," Kennard and Powell wrote.

Kennard, a Democrat, was chairman from 1997-1991, and Powell, a Republican, from 2001-2005.