Dingell Applauds Industry’s DTV Moves

2/14/2007 10:55 AM Eastern

The cable, broadcasting and equipment-manufacturing industries united Wednesday behind a digital-TV consumer-education campaign that won quick praise from House Energy and Commerce Committee chairman John Dingell (D-Mich.).

The three industries promised to use various communications strategies to inform consumers about maintaining TV service when analog-TV signals are terminated by law Feb. 17, 2009. The Bush administration was given up to $1.5 billion for a coupon program designed to subsidize the retail cost of digital-to-analog converter boxes.

“The most recent Congress established Feb. [17], 2009, as the transition date, yet failed to ensure adequate consumer education. For this reason, I am particularly pleased that the broadcasting, cable and consumer-electronics industries are joining to educate consumers on the transition and on how to obtain the converter-box coupons to help keep their TVs functioning,” Dingell said in a prepared statement.

Backing the consumer campaign were the National Cable & Telecommunications Association, the National Association of Broadcasters and the Consumer Electronics Association. The presidents of all three groups -- the NCTA’s Kyle McSlarrow, the NAB’s David Rehr and the CEA’s Gary Shapiro -- sent a joint letter to Dingell and other congressional leaders in telecommunications policy Wednesday about their commitment to a fully informed public leading up to the analog cutoff.

"Our goal is to ensure that no American loses the ability to view over-the-air television signals due to a lack of accurate information about the transition," the trade groups’ letter said.

About 20 million households rely exclusively on free, over-the-air broadcasting and possess about 45 million analog-TV sets that can’t display digital signals. Broadcast-only homes will need digital-to-analog converters to continue using their existing analog TVs after Feb. 17, 2009.

“I will closely monitor both public- and private-sector efforts to ensure that no American household loses its television signal,” Dingell said.