Rockefeller's New DTV Transition Date: June 12 - Broadcasting & Cable

Rockefeller's New DTV Transition Date: June 12

Senator says delay would give more time to fix coupon program, reduce safety risks
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Senator Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.) has introduced the bill to delay the DTV transition.

The new date would be June 12, three months beyond the current Feb. 17 date of transitioning full power TV stations from analog to digital.

Rockefeller, who is chairman of the Senate Commerce Committe, which oversees the FCC, has been working on the bill for several days, with a June deadline in the 3-4 month time frame that had been expected.

"I firmly believe that our nation is not yet ready to make this transition,” Rockefeller said in announcing the bill.

Rockefeller said the delay was necessary because it would reduce the public safety risks of losing access to emergency information, allow federal agencies to better prepare, allow the DTV coupon program to be fixed, give time for more coordination of the transition, and reduce the number of people and tower crews put at risk by working on antennas in the winter.

“The outgoing Bush Administration has mismanaged this initiative and President-elect Obama has asked Congress to delay the date of the transition," Rockefeller said. "Over two million Americans are waiting to receive a coupon to help them offset the cost of equipment that will help them manage the transition – millions more don’t have the proper information they need,” Rockefeller said.

The House is also working on a bill to delay the date.

Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez says all Congress needs to do is fix the coupon program and the Feb. 17 date should hold, a point he made to Rockefeller in a letter. Rockefeller was making the point that the delay was about a lot more than the coupon program."We must ensure that consumers can adequately prepare for the DTV transition. In Minnesota, more than 21 percent of our households depend exclusively on over-the-air broadcast TV. Unless we get this right, millions could be without television on February 18 - the day after the transition," said Minnesota Democratic Senator Amy Klobuchar, who introduced the bill along with Rockefeller.

She, along with Rockefeller, was also an early supporter of last week's call by the Obama transition team to move the date.

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