Washington (DC) – Last week, the FCC was asked by President-elect Obama’s transition team to delay the switch, which is scheduled for February 17, 2009. Over the weekend, Kevin Martin, the FCC Chairman, replied in a public statement that “postponing this shut off could confuse consumers.”
The FCC Chairman also has concerns that consumers won’t take the new date seriously – which had already been moved forward to its current time from a previously planned switch early in 2008. February 17, 2009 is now the firm date.
There appears to be some division within the FCC on this subject, however. Democratic FCC commissioner Jonathan Adelstein is siding with the Obama transition team and has said, “This program has been badly mismanaged. It’s not ready for prime time. There are so many elements of the preparation that have not been undertaken. We don’t have a program in place in the field to help people who need assistance in their homes. The phone banks are inadequately prepared” as well.
It is estimated that 7% of U.S. households will see snow on their TVs come February 17 when the switch is made – largely due to the government’s coupon program running out, according to a study by Nielsen Media Research.
Digital converter boxes will continue to be available at that point and after, and can be purchased that day for any latecomers.
The Digital TV switchover seems to be a point of contention by many – and I’m not sure why. There may be many 10s of thousands affected by the switch. But that doesn’t mean they’re going to be without food or something.
Every local TV program has warned its viewing audience for months that the switch was coming. Consumers are without reasonable excuse if they have failed to obtain a box by the February 17 deadline. And even if they don’t make that deadline, there’s no incentive like no TV. One quick trip to Radio Shack on that day will enable them to continue watching TV like normal. And if not, then it’s simple: books!