Washington Players Back Obama's Proposal For DTV Date Delay

Jay Rockfeller (D-WVA). Minnesota Democratic Senator Amy Klobuchar among supporters
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More big names in Washington are lining up behind Barack Obama's proposal to delay the DTV transition date, including the head of a powerful oversight committee and the potential new acting chairman of the FCC.

Senate Commerce Committee Chairman Jay Rockfeller (D-WVA) says he will support moving the DTV transition date from Feb. 17.

That came after the Barack Obama transition team asked him to support the move.

In a statement late Thursday, Rockefeller, who has been critical of the Bush adminstration's handling of the transition, said there was too much riding on the transition to leave the outcome wishful thinking, taking an opportunity to fire a shot at the current administration.

“I’ve long believed that there is too much at stake for consumers and for public safety to simply cross our fingers and hope for the best when it comes to the digital television transition," he said Thursday. "Millions of Americans could be left in the dark if this doesn’t go smoothly."

“The Obama Administration deserves time to bring order to what has been an appallingly mismanaged process by the Bush Administration. I look forward to reviewing the details of the Obama Administration proposal with my colleagues and will support delaying the current date of the DTV transition until we can do it right.”

Joining Rockefeller was Minnesota Democratic Senator Amy Klobuchar, a member of the Commerce Committee, which oversees communications.

“We must ensure that consumers have access to coupons for the DTV transition by extending the deadline so that consumers can adequately prepare for the transition," she said Thursday. "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."

“Unfortunately, after guarantees that the Bush Administration would adequately prepare and protect consumers, only in the last few days have they revealed that funding has run out – just weeks before the plug is pulled on analog TV.  While the digital TV transition should happen, a delay is necessary to make up for the lack of preparation on the part of the current Administration.”

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