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FCC Commissioner questions Chairman's preparations for DTV transition

Written by Rich Fiscus @ 16 Jan 2009 2:02 User comments (4)

FCC Commissioner questions Chairman's preparations for DTV transition It's no secret that many people, including US President Elect Barrack Obama, have questioned how prepared the US is for the DTV transition coming next month. FCC Chairman Kevin Martin has been the target of much criticism over his relatively hands-off approach to the consumer side of the equation. Those voices have now been joined by one of Martin's fellow FCC commissioners.
On January 14 Commissioner Robert McDowell sent a letter to Kevin Martin regarding the agency's preparations for the transition. The most disconcerting aspect of the letter was McDowell's allegation Martin has played his cards so close to the vest that even the other commisioners aren't involved or even sure of what's being done.

"In short, it appears that the Commision's efforts to date are inadequate. As neither I, nor either of our colleagues, have been consulted in advance or otherwise asked to assist with the tasks at hand, I cannot be certain regarding the extent of the Commission's shortcomings" wrote McDowell.

He went on to suggest that the FCC's call center is unprepared for the call volume they're likely to experience. He expressed concern that "callers that opt for a live operator are sometimes spontaneously disconnected rather than re-routed." and said "the Commission must be better organized, more energetic and must coordinate its efforts in a more open and collaborative manner."

He even went so far as to echo Barrack Obama's suggestion that the transition may need to be postponed.

If you get your TV signal using an antenna instead of from a cable or satellite subscription service you need to make sure you have everything you need, and if possible you've tested it. If you don't know it's past time to find out. You can start with our guide on Preparing for the US DTV Transition

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4 user comments

116.1.2009 04:56

Let's take a look at this mess shall we....
Millions spent on advertising the switch.
Millions "spent" on vouchers.
Billions go to the government in the spectrum auction.

Yep sounds like the government expertise to me.

I read somewhere there were about 13 million of those coupons that were distibuted and never used. You had to jump through flaming hoops to get new ones IF you let yours expire. Now where has all the money gone that was earmarked for those unused vouchers? As for the fcc kind of ironic theres no communication there!

I can sum up the whole situation up in a simple analogy....

It's like making baby elephants. It's sometimes done with lot of noise. It's done in high places. It takes years to see any results!

216.1.2009 09:27

The money that was earmarked for the expired vouchers goes to the next person on the waiting list. Or at least it is supposed to from what I read.

316.1.2009 12:14

So what if the DTV transition does go according to plan and millions of Americans lose the ability to watch broad-casted TV. At least then those people will be able to do something more productive instead of watching TV, like spend more quality time with friend in family instead of spending that time infront of a TV with them.

416.1.2009 12:31

The article is quick to claim "inadequate" preparation but comes up very short on facts to back that claim, other one single commissioner's feeling that they might not be able to handle call volume.

Sounds to me like all these so-called unpreparedness concerns are simply propaganda and paranoia not much unlike the similar vibe leading up to the Y2K non-event.

It's clear that the only thing McDowell is doing is getting nervous and fired a pre-emptive "cover his own rear end" memo just in case things don't go smoothly. If he were truly concerned about any issues, he would have been actively engaged in such issues well prior to when he made those statements. Talk is cheap, action speaks louder than words. What's he actually done? Nothing, which is less than what the agency has accomplished. In fact, he even admits not even doing his homework well enough to be able to determine with any certainty whether or not his fears are even valid ("I cannot be certain regarding the extent of the Commission's shortcomings".)

With all that's been advertised about the switch well in advance, and the high profile local test broadcasts - it will be hard to find someone who is unprepared unless they've been living under a rock and haven't been watching their antenna fed analog television for the last 6-12 months. Communication on the issue has been all over broadcast TV. Those who haven't noticed either haven't been watching or have been watching cable channels instead - meaning they won't be affected anyway.

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