Rehr Offers DTV Info To Obama

Transition team co-chair says he doesn't have DTV date "stuck in his head"

National Association of Broadcasters President David Rehr put in a plug for the DTV transition in a letter to President-elect Barack Obama Monday.

According to a copy of the letter, supplied by NAB, Rehr congratulated Obama, talked up the public service of broadcasters and reminded him about the Feb. 17, 2009, transition to digital. He also identified NAB as the broadcast lobby before Congress, the FCC and the federal government.

He pointed to the number of viewers who depend on free, over-the-air TV, saying it was 19 million, and that the transition would affect 70 million TV's, enclosing more DTV information and saying Obama should feel free to call him with any questions about NAB's legislative advocacy or initiatives.

Somewhat ironically, the letter was publicized the same day that Obama transition team co-chair John Podesta reiterated the President-elect's desire to crack down on the "undue influence" of lobbyists on government and released new restrictions on lobbyist input into the transition or Obama administration.

In a press conference Tuesday, Podesta was asked about the DTV transition. He was aware of it, though not of the exact date, saying: "The digital television transition will take place, I believe in early February. I don't have the date stuck in my head," he added. But he said that the transition team "was focused on the fact that it will be an early challenge and we need to be ready and prepared for that."