Thursday, January 08, 2009

Holy crap! Obama wants to delay the DTV date

I kinda expected Congress to cave and delay the drop-dead date - but like months ago, not now. I figured they'd look too chicken if they went back on the DTV transition now (plus, imagine the confusion caused by changing everything at the last minute).
But Obama's asking for just that. OK, John Podesta, a top aide. Whatever.

“With coupons unavailable, support and education insufficient, and the most vulnerable Americans exposed, I urge you to consider a change to the legislatively-mandated cutoff date,” Mr. Podesta wrote.

For what it's worth, I think the "education" thing is bogus. Plenty of studies have shown the overwhelming majority of people know about the transition. They're just too lazy/cheap/technophobic to do anything about it.

I expect the delay to happen. Kicking the can down the road is pretty much always Congress' preferred option.

Still, what will it mean? Nielsen was planning to throw out the February book because of the transition confusion. Would they move it back? Would a new date just make the switchover more confusing? Seems like opening a whole can o' worms.

UPDATE: The NAB's position:

"The certainty created when Congress set the February 17 hard date for the
DTV transition was a positive catalyst for broadcasters, manufacturers,
retailers, public safety groups, consumers and the government.

NAB and broadcasters nationwide are committed to being ready by February 17 and strongly support a solution that would enable the government to continue making converter box coupons available to consumers who rely on free television. We continue to urge Congress to act swiftly to ensure coupons are made available for those who
need them.

UPDATED UPDATE: Local broadcasters are not thrilled with the proposal, since
they've spent the last year using valuable advertising time to tell viewers
about the switch.
"We’ve had to run educational campaigns all year telling
people what the date is," said Tim Merritt, KKTV/Channel 11's general manager.
"I think it would add to the confusion."
KOAA/Channels 5&30 general
manager Dave Whitaker said Congress would be better off quickly approving more
money for the converter box coupon program.
"It’s crazy," Whitaker said. "It
comes down to the simple factor that they ran out of coupons. Our industry the
nad is saying that it’s ridiculous. There’s always (going to be) a small
percentage of thepopulation that won’t be digital ready."


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