WASHINGTON, D.C. – Representative Edward J. Markey (D-MA), chairman of the House Subcommittee on Telecommunications and the Internet, today released a report from the Government Accountability Office (GAO) assessing the readiness of television broadcasters for the national digital television (DTV) transition. As of February 17, 2008, all full-power television broadcasters must transition to digital-only over the air broadcast signals.

The GAO found that the vast majority of broadcast stations have made "substantial progress" in transitioning to digital signals. However, the GAO report highlighted several critical issues that must be addressed for many stations, such as building new antenna towers, adjusting antennas on top of existing towers, or financing the transition costs, that must be addressed for the nation-wide transition to succeed.

"While the GAO found that most broadcast television stations around the country appear prepared for the DTV transition from a technical, operational standpoint, the GAO also highlighted several technical issues for many television broadcasters that must be addressed in markets across the country," said Rep. Markey.

"It remains vital that those broadcasters who have lingering or looming technical issues, including adjustments to tower and antenna apparatus, have plans in place to address them now while there is still ample time. We must also ensure that the FCC remains on top of these issues and works with industry to address them to ensure overall success."

The GAO report (available here) found that while 68 percent of stations are transmitting their digital signal at full strength, challenges remain for other stations that must:

  • Physically install or relocate digital or analog antennas
  • Construct new broadcast towers
  • Find funding to complete equipment upgrades
  • Coordinate with cable and/or satellite companies.

"With just under nine months to go, the DTV transition will be a significant milestone in the history of television. I look forward to working with FCC Chairman Kevin Martin, as well as my congressional colleagues and the Bush administration to ensure that every full-power broadcaster is ready for the switch and every consumer gets to enjoy the benefits of higher quality picture and sound," added Rep. Markey.


May 20, 2008

CONTACT: Jessica Schafer, 202.225.2836