Legislation will ensure that millions of Americans aren’t left in the dark during DTV transition

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today Representative Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), a senior member and former chairman of the Subcommittee on Communications, Technology and the Internet, applauded the final passage of legislation that will postpone the digital television (DTV) transition until June 12, 2009. Like President Obama, Rep. Markey believes that without immediate action, millions of Americans will be unprepared for the DTV transition on February 17, 2009.

"I applaud the passage of this necessary legislation," Rep. Markey said. "It is unfortunate that Congress had to take additional action on this issue, but the prospect of leaving millions of consumers in the dark was simply unacceptable. This was a foreseeable problem and should have been anticipated and acknowledged by the Bush administration long ago.  However, the Bush administration simply left us with insufficient time to make the needed adjustments on a national basis without this short, one-time delay. I commend President Obama for his swift actions on this critical issue."

Rep. Markey led Congress in questioning the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) about the status of their preparations for the DTV switch-over, including the funding shortfall for their converter box program.

Rep. Markey continued: "For the last two years as the Telecommunications and Internet Subcommittee chairman, I convened six DTV hearings, requested and received three Government Accountability Office (GA0) reports, and wrote numerous oversight letters to the FCC, to NTIA, and to industry and consumer representatives in headlong pursuit of ensuring a successful digital television transition on February 17th."

As far back as 2005, Rep. Markey expressed concern about the lack of adequate funding for the DTV transition. Only after repeated hearings and inquires from Rep. Markey did the Bush administration finally admit on December 24th, 2008 that it expected to put converter box coupon applicants on waiting lists and might need addition funding for the overall program.

Documentation about Rep. Markey's inquiries into the digital television transition preparations by the FCC and NTIA are available on his website and below:

October 2005 - MEMO - Rep. Markey and Members of Energy and Commerce Committee lay out their reasons for dissenting to the DTV Transition Act of 2005 

December 19, 2008 - LETTERS - Rep. Markey asks NTIA & FCC for latest projections and plans for the digital switchover

December 26, 2008 - LETTERS - FCC & NTIA respond to Rep. Markey Dec. 19th request:
FCC cover letter
FCC responses to specific questions
FCC plan for spending additonal consumer education funds
NTIA cover letter
NTIA responses to specific questions
NTIA sample letter to retailers

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February 4, 2009

  CONTACT: Daniel Reilly 202-225-2836