DTV Converter Box Backlog Remains [Multichannel News]
DTV Converter Box Backlog Remains [Multichannel News]
FCC: Stations Shouldn't Pull Analog Plug Until April 16 [Multichannel News]
Pull out your calendars. Last Friday, the FCC released a series of dates and deadlines for television stations wishing to transition to digital prior to June 12th. As you'll recall, Congress pushed the mandatory DTV deadline back to June 12th. Some stations have already converted, with many transitioning last Tuesday. For those yet to switch, they have the option of requesting a transition date earlier than June 12th from the FCC.
The deadline for stations wishing to switch before June 12th will be March 17th - St. Patrick's Day. TV stations must inform the FCC of those plans by that date. If any stations in Insight's service area announce such plans, you'll read about it here.
Last week's "early" digital transition of 421 television stations continues to appear to have gone very smoothly - with the exception of the TV shooter in Joplin. The number of calls to the FCC's DTV hotline continued to decrease throughout the week last week, and anecdotal evidence from individual stations' DTV hotlines indicate that most viewers got the message and prepared for the transition
Okay, so apparently the digital transition of 421 television stations across the nation which was going pretty smoothly has had a hiccup in Joplin, Missouri. A 70 year-old man named Walter Hoover was taken into police custody earlier today after a brief standoff with local authorities.
Turns out that Mr. Hoover's local television stations were among those that transitioned to digital broadcasting earlier this week. Frustrated with a digital converter box that wasn't working, Mr. Hoover allegedly pulled out a gun and fired several shots into his television set.
Police were called, and Mr. Hoover was arrested and charged with unlawful use of a firearm.
Wouldn't it have been easier to call the FCC Hotline?
Maybe not. Mr. Hoover's wife told police that he had been drinking.
DTV Transition Partially Occurs, World Doesn't End [Broadband Reports]
The digital transition of approximately one-third of the nation's broadcasters continues to proceed smoothly. The latest reports from the DTV call centers aiding viewers with questions about the transition indicates that Wednesday call volume - the latest day's reports available - declined slightly from the Tuesday call volume. While many of Tuesday's calls were related to converter box re-scanning issues, a significant percentage of Wednesday's calls related to reception issues.
Those reception issues were a result of digital broadcasting not reaching the antennas of over-the-air television viewers in the same way that the analog broadcasts did. To keep all their channels, some over-the-air viewers will have to purchase a new antenna and have it properly oriented.
On the other hand, cable television viewers don't have to worry about losing some of their channels due to reception or buying an antenna (in addition to converter boxes for each TV). They're relaxed because they're already prepared for the digital transition. Most stations in Insight's service area will be transitioning between now and June 12th. If you still watch television over-the-air, and you would like to be able to relax, give us a call and let us handle your DTV transition.
FCC: No Problem Handling DTV Calls So Far [Multichannel News]
The reports are still coming in, but it appears that the transition of 421 television stations to digital broadcasting yesterday went pretty smoothly based on the reports of calls fielded by FCC and cable industry sponsored DTV call centers. Over 28,000 calls were fielded yesterday, around 8,000 more calls than Monday. The call centers were more than adequately staffed to handle the call volume.
It appears that many callers had one problem in common - that when stations switched to digital, they lost signal on digital-ready or converter-equipped televisions because they had not rescanned for the new digital signals. So many people reported this issue that the FCC has issued an advisory encouraging viewers to re-scan for new channels if they haven't already. If there's such a thing as a good problem, this sounds like it. The fact that most calls are about this issue means that the majority of callers to the DTV hotlines have the proper equipment for DTV.
I am very, very impressed with the speed and efficiency that the FCC has moved with to deal with this transition. Immediately upon taking office, acting Chairman Michael Copps moved decisively to ramp up their call center capability, working with the cable and broadcasters to handle problems.
One word of warning. Most stations that carry the four major broadcast networks have not converted to digital yet and most won't go until the new deadline, June 12th. Therefore, many viewers who still rely on an over-the-air antenna for reception may not have yet realized that they lost one of their channels.
Of course, television viewers connected to cable haven't had to re-scan a converter box or worry about the date their favorite channel will switch to digital. That's because cable customers were already prepared for the digital transition. No re-scanning necessary.
Here at Insight, we'll continuing monitoring the DTV transition because most stations in our footprint have yet to convert to digital. If you're not yet a customer and you'd like for Insight to be your solution for a headache-free digital transition, I encourage you to give us a call.
NTIA Won't Immediately Gain Access To DTV Coupon Money [Multichannel News]
President Obama signed the economic stimulus bill yesterday, which contained $650 million in additional funding for the federal government's digital television converter box coupon program and consumer DTV education. Last month, the federal agency responsible for the program announced that it had run out of money, just weeks prior to the digital transition deadline. The program started a waiting list for the coupons, which now totals 4.2 million requests - nearly as many households as the number that remain unprepared for the digital transition.
While the additional funding will restart the coupon program, it may take a few weeks before coupons begin hitting mailboxes again. The lag time is due to the normal course of bureaucratic red tape that exists when a new appropriation is made by Congress. Still, the coupons won't be available to consumers in markets with stations that switched to digital television this morning - that was 641 stations by last count.
I'll be following digital transition news closely over the next few days as we find out how the transition is going in those markets that opted to go ahead with a February 17th digital switch. Mike posted a comment on this blog asking why I keep writing about this since our customers are already prepared.
Great question. Two reasons. First, Insight customers who don't have all of their TV's hooked up to cable may not be prepared for the transition on the TV's that aren't. Second, although this blog is primarily aimed at Insight customers, they are not the only readers. I am also interested in reaching people all around the country who simply are interested in telecommunications issues. Our readership research shows that people who read this blog come from everywhere imaginable.
FCC: 36% Of Stations Will Make Switch By Original DTV Hard Date [Multichannel News]
The final figures are in, and they show that 421 stations nationwide will convert to digital broadcasts tonight at midnight. Add that to the 220 stations that have already converted, and that makes a total of 641 stations that will be broadcasting in digital when we wake up tomorrow morning. That number represents 36% of all television stations in the U.S. - that despite the fact that Congress has passed and President Obama has signed the DTV Delay Act, delaying the final DTV deadline to June 12th.
We're going to get our first widespread look how well the nation prepared for the digital transition starting tonight. Though most stations will stick with analog broadcasts, many television markets will have several stations switching to digital. Those viewers who are unprepared will see either static or messages instructing them how to prepare for DTV. Call centers will be receiving thousands of calls from the millions of households that haven't gotten a digital converter box or connected to cable.
In Insight's footprint, only a few stations have opted to make the transition tomorrow. Remember, if you lose your analog stations on TV's not hooked up to cable, call us and get connected.
Target Date Moves for DTV Switch [Multichannel News]
Tomorrow was originally set to be the big day for the nation's television stations to convert to digital broadcasting. With the passage of the DTV Delay Act, only a portion of TV stations will convert to digital tomorrow, leaving three other potential dates for stations to switch from analog. Tomorrow, a total of between 421 and 431 television stations will convert to digital, representing the conversion of over a quarter of all stations in the U.S. An addition 190 stations (mainly in Hawaii and Wilmington, North Carolina) have already transition to digital.
Stations that wished to convert tomorrow, but were prohibited by the FCC may be allowed to convert on April 18th. This represents around 60 TV stations, including the NBC affiliate in Bowling Green, Kentucky. Most other stations are planning to wait until June 12th - the new national DTV deadline - though, they have the option of converting earlier if they provide their viewers with adequate notice.
Tomorrow won't be the big day that was originally expected. In Insight's footprint, most stations are maintaining their analog broadcasts until June 12th. But in other parts of the country, DTV hotlines will be busy helping the thousands that didn't prepare for the transition that's happening, even though it's delayed (yes, it is confusing). The myriad of deadlines that the delay legislation created will likely contribute to the confusion that unprepared viewers have.
If you're still unprepared for the digital transition, it's a good time to give Insight a call about getting connected to cable. If you're still watching over-the-air television in Insight's footprint without a digital converter box, you'll probably be able to receive most of your television channels tomorrow without interruption. There just aren't that many stations in our footprint that are switching to DTV tomorrow. But the day is soon approaching when they will convert. As long as all your televisions are connected to cable, you're prepared for the digital transition. Give us a call, and we'll make sure your digital transition (no matter when it happens) is as uneventful as possible.
FCC Okays 368 To Make Feb. 17 DTV Switch [Multichannel News]
Of the 491 TV stations that requested to make the switch to digital television on February 17th, the FCC has approved 368 - rejecting 123 stations in markets where all stations requested to transition. The FCC's concern is that if all the stations in a market convert to digital broadcasts without giving viewers an analog alternative, large numbers of viewers unprepared for DTV will be left with static. The only way for these 123 stations to transition next Tuesday is to convince another station in their market to stick with analog.
But the 123 stations can still transition prior to the new June 12th digital transition deadline. Provided the stations give their viewers appropriate notice, the FCC will allow these stations to convert to digital broadcasts on April 18th. So, depending on the circumstances, television stations will be making the digital transition on February 17th, April 18th, June 12th, or if you live in Hawaii, your television station has already switched to digital.
I reported a couple of days ago that a small number of stations in Insight markets requested an early transition. The only station in our footprint that was denied a February 17th transition was the NBC affiliate in Bowling Green, Kentucky. It may be Tuesday or later before we know exactly which stations were given final permission to transition, due to the FCC's hardship appeals process that any of the 123 denied stations can invoke. As it looks now, February 17 will be end of analog broadcasting for the CW and Fox affiliates in Columbus, an independent and ABC in Lexington, and CW in Louisville. Bowling Green viewers will have to wait to see if and when an appeal changes the status quo for the NBC affiate in that market. I'll keep you posted.
FCC: Hundreds Could Be Barred From Feb. 17 DTV Shift [Multichannel News]
Nearly 500 television stations are planning to make the jump to digital broadcasting on February 17th - the original DTV deadline - that is, if the FCC approves their requests. According to interim chairman Michael Copps, the FCC might not approve all stations' applications for an transition next week. Congress recently passed the DTV delay act, moving the deadline back to June 12th. President Obama signed that legislation yesterday. Chairman Copps and the other commissioners are concerned that in some markets - mainly mid-sized ones - that there may be too many households unprepared for the digital transition to allow all stations in those markets to make the switch.
In nearly 20 television markets, all of the broadcasters have requested to transition to digital next week, meaning that there won't be any analog alternative for households that aren't ready for digital broadcasts. In areas where there are large numbers still on the government's digital converter box coupon waiting list, the FCC is holding out the possibility that at least one station will be required to stick with analog for the time being. If the stations still want to switch before June 12th, the FCC might set a new transition date after February 17th but before June 12th.
Even though February 17th is just four days away, the FCC has yet to announce which TV stations will be prohibited from making the early transition. The stations planning a transition next week are already running PSAs (per the FCC's notice rules) that are telling viewers to get ready for a switch. Now, these stations (and their viewers) are waiting for a last-minute call from Washington to know whether or not they've got the green light to turn off their analog transmitter.
It's a fluid situation that's likely to cause some confusion among consumers. If you're TV is connected to cable, you can relax. All the conflicting dates and last minute changes won't impact cable television viewers because they're already prepared for the transiton, no matter when it happens.
Half a Billion Mobile TV Viewers by 2013 [NewTeeVee]
It sounds a bit optimistic, but a new report from ABI Research predicts that by 2013, 500 million people will be watching television on their mobile devices. The digital television transition will usher in technology that allows mobile users to receive digital television signals on devices equipped to receive them. In fact, the Open Mobile Video Coalition (OMVC) announced at the Consumer Electronics Show last month that 63 television stations have already committed to providing over-the-air broadcasts to mobile users.
But, as this article notes, mobile devices equipped with digital TV receivers won't hit the market until next year. And some mobile carriers with video services that would compete with mobile devices that could receive over-the-air TV might be disinclined to start rolling out the newer TV-ready phones.
Going from zero to 500 million in less than four years sounds ambitions to me, but with professionally produced video quickly proving itself as a killer application on the web, the sky might be the limit if it fits in your pocket while you're away from home.
Provided President Obama signs it as expected today, over-the-air television viewers will have until June 12 to prepare for the digital transition thanks to the recently passed DTV delay act. However, the federal government's converter box coupon is still frozen due to a lack of funds resulting in a waiting list of millions of coupon requests. The best option for television viewers that still need to prepare for DTV is to give Insight a call. But, if you insist on getting of one of those $40 converter box coupons, a company named Retrevo has a way you can.
Retrevo's "Good Neighbor Coupon Exchange" connects those with extra governement coupons with the television viewers that still want them, but can't get them from the federal governement. If you've got an extra coupon that hasn't yet expired, you simply fill out a form at Retrevo's web site. Those seeking them fill out a similar form, and are connected with people that still have coupons to spare. One problem still exists, though. Due to the large number of people seeking coupons the Retrevo coupon exchange, requesters currently outpace coupon providers. As I've said, maybe it's time to give us a call after all.
Stations Must Alert FCC By Sunday If They Want To Make Feb. 17 DTV Switch [Multichannel News]
I mentioned the other day in a post about the DTV deadline delay that the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) would still have to work out notice provisions for TV stations wishing to stick with the original February 17th digital switch date if the DTV delay passed. Well, the delay passed and yesterday the FCC announced that if any of the 276 stations that might be planning to switch to digital broadcasts on February 17th were going through with it, they would need to inform the FCC by this coming Sunday. The FCC is also mandating that stations switching to digital on the 17th must air 120 public service announcements between now and the 17th.
It certainly is refreshing to see the FCC taking constructive and proactive action to help smooth the transition. Chairman Copps has certainly shown an ability to step into a mess and quickly focus on what needs to be done.
There have been indications that several, if not all, of the major stations in the Louisville market want to stick with a February 17th digital transition. Provided the stations get the green light from the FCC, Louisville television viewers should be prepared to be seeing more DTV PSAs in the next two weeks. With twelve days left before the 17th - that's 10 PSAs a day.
In other DTV preparededness news, Niesen is reporting that last month another 700,000 U.S. households became prepared for digital television. That still leaves 5.8 millions homes unprepared for DTV as of February 1st.
House Votes to Delay Switch to Digital TV [New York Times]
It's official, the deadline for television stations to switch from analog to digital broadcasts will be pushed back from February 17th to June 12th. Today, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the DTV delay legislation that had already been passed by the Senate. The bill awaits President Obama's signature, and he has indicated he will sign the delay bill.
Under the delay bill, television stations are free to make the digital transition whenever they wish. Many are opting to make the conversion on the original February date or soon thereafter, citing the electricity savings they will incur the sooner they switch to digital broadcasts. In fact, well over half of all television stations have reported that they have the ability to switch to digital before June 12th.
If you're still on a waiting list for one of the federal government's digital converter box coupons, you still have a while to wait. The coupon program is still halted by a lack of funds, and the DTV delay bill doesn't change that fact. However, the economic stimulus bill that's currently being debated contains additional funds for the coupon program. If and when the stimulus bill passes, millions of people on the waiting list will begin receiving their $40 converter box coupons. We just don't know if they will receive them on time, especially in markets where broadcasters intend to transition early. If you have TV's that receive their signals from an antenna, this might be a good time to give us a call and rely upon us make the transition a non-event in your home. If you wait until the last minute, you might have to wait for an installation appointment.
Copps: 61% Of Stations Could DTV Transition Earlier Than June 12 [Multichannel News]
Today the House of Representatives will take up the DTV delay bill again after it failed to receive enough votes to pass last week. While passage seems likely, its anything but assured that the bill DTV deadline delay will make it into law. The House will be taking the bill up under normal rules, and unlike last week opponents of the bill can attempt to add amendments to the bill. Any amendments would have to be agreed to by the Senate, which makes the bill's final fate an open question. All this is happening 13 days prior to the current February 17th deadline! If the delay bill does pass, the deadline for stations to switch from analog broadcasts to digital would become June 12th.
In a recent development, FCC interim chairman Michael Copps has written a letter to congressional leaders that indicates that over 60 percent of broadcast stations could switch to digital prior to June 12th. Many probably will, like stations in the Louisville market that have indicated they plan to switch on the current February 17th deadline. Some 143 stations have already turned off their analog broadcasts, and an additional 276 have indicated that they're already planning to stick with the February 17th deadline. That number may grow depending on whether the delay bill passes, but there are some questions about notification requirements. The law currently requires a 30 day notification period, and many stations are waiting to see what Congress does before they announce their final plans.
The plan to enact a DTV delay ostensibly was to ease consumer confusion and allow additional time for consumers to prepare their televisions for the transition. As it stands now, it looks like consumers will be even more confused as stations pick the time they convert anytime between now and the new date.
Just in case you haven't heard me say this before, cable customers are some of the few that can rest easy. As long as all your televisions are connected to cable, you'll be prepared for digital television no matter when the switch is thrown.
DTV Delay: Game Still On [The Bauminator]
The U.S. Senate has again passed a DTV delay bill in anticipation of the House of Representatives taking action and passing the same bill. The bill would delay the current digital television transition deadline from February 17th to June 12th because the new Obama administration is concerned that there is still too much confusion in the marketplace about the switch. The House had one attempt early last week to pass the delay, but failed to get a required 2/3rds majority in favor of the delay. The House is expected to take up the bill's fate on Wednesday.
Unfortunately, the deadline getting more confusing rather than less. Yielding to Senate Republican pressure, the delay allows broadcasters to make the switch at any time before the new June deadline. One change in the bill that is expected to garner a few extra votes is a provision that allows first responders to begin using freed up spectrum if broadcasters make the switch before the June 12th deadline. But some House Republicans are concerned that the new flexibility will not work and the frequencies needed for first responders will be delayed for three months.
And just to add more confusion, Louisville TV stations appear to want to convert in February. So for those of you who live in that market, just when you think you got an extension on getting ready...think again.
Amazingly, three weeks before the deadline, the confusion that surrounds the DTV delay legislation is still on the rise. A bill passed the Senate that would move the digital television transition deadline from February 17th to June 12th last week. Unfortunately, the DTV delay legislation failed yesterday's vote in the House of Representatives. It needed a 2/3 vote for passage, and it fell well short of that margin, while receiving a majority of members' votes.
Even if the House bill is resurrected by changing the rule that required a 2/3 majority, they made a few minor changes in the legislation requiring the Senate to reconsider the bill. Assuming those pass the Senate - and remember, one senator can halt the bill's progress with an objection, the date will change to June 12 -- oh, by the way, right in the middle of the NBA championships.
I'm being told now that the situation is very fluid, and it's again very much up in the air whether we'll see a DTV delay.
And if you're not confused enough, I reported yesterday that some TV stations in Louisville will stick with the original DTV deadline of February 17th, regardless of what action Congress takes (or does not take). Given how confusing all these on-again, off-again DTV deadlines are becoming, I wonder, more than ever, if it simply serves consumers best just to stick with the original date. February 17th has been ingrained in consumers' minds with the millions of dollars of advertising and education provided by the cable industry and broadcasters. There is an simple alternative bill in the House that would release more funding for the siezed-up Federal Coupon Program.
DTV May Go Ahead as Planned…Here [The 'Ville Voice]
Even though Congress looks poised to approve a bill delaying the national digital television transition from February 17th until June 12th of this year, it appears that at least some of the television stations in Louisville, Kentucky will proceed with their digital transition on the earlier date. The 'Ville Voice interviews two Louisville television station managers who indicate that there are plans underway for at least some Louisville stations to make the switch to digital on February 17th.
While the congressional DTV delay would set the new deadline at June 12th, individual stations are free set a different transition date. If you're watching Louisville television over-the-air, I'd recommend that you prepare for the digital switch in February. And, like I've said a hundred times before, if your televisions are connected to cable, we've got you covered. You're already prepared for the digital transition - no matter when it occurs in your area or for your favorite TV station.
DTV Delay Gains Ground [Multichannel News]
President Obama's goal of delaying the digital television transition may be on track for a vote in the U.S. Senate this week. Senate Republicans have reached a compromise with Senator Jay Rockefeller over the provisions in a bill that would delay the digital transition until June 12th. The current deadline is February 17th.
The compromise may add even more confusion into the marketplace. It allows stations to voluntarily convert prior to the cutoff date which, if they do, probably will catch many people unprepared. It will also mean that the call centers being set up by the cable and broadcast industries may not be open for business when a station goes off.
While it's still not completely clear whether the compromise delay bill will have enough votes to pass in the Senate, if it does, it will likely be put on a fast-track for passage in the House of Representatives, where a similar bill now sits in the House Energy and Commerce Committee.
Much of the impetus behind the delay legislation is the fact that the federal government's digital converter box coupon program has run out of money and is currently placing coupon requests on a waiting list. Republicans in both the House and Senate have filed legislating allocating an additional $250 million in tax dollars toward the coupon program - aimed at allowing the program to begin processing coupon requests again in advance of a February 17th or June 12th transition deadline.
Nielsen Says 6.5 Million Homes Still Not Ready DTV Transition [Multichannel News]
Twenty-four days until the currently set digital television transition deadline of February 17th Nielsen has released the latest numbers on the households unprepared for the digital transition. 6.5 million homes or 5.7 percent of all American households still aren't ready for the transition. That means 1.3 million homes have gotten themselves prepared to receive digital television since last month, but it's still a lot of homes that won't have a television signal a month from now unless they get with the program.
The latest numbers from the government's digital converter box coupon waiting list reveal that 2 million households are waiting for one from the federal government. Assuming every one of those 2 million purchase a digital converter box with their coupon, that means that 4.5 million homes would still be unprepared if the coupon program were reactivated immediately.
Waxman Postpones DTV Delay Vote [Multichannel News]
Here's the latest on the potential for an extention of the digital television transition deadline - we're in a holding pattern. Senator Jay Rockefeller's bill that would delay the transition until June 12th has been delayed in the Senate due to objections raised by other senators. Senator John McCain has raised concerns about Rockefeller's bill on the basis that first responders won't be receiving their part of the spectrum that will be freed up by digital television on the original date of February 17th. Over in the House, a similar piece of legislation that would delay the DTV date had its committee vote postponed by House Energy and Commerce Committee chairman Henry Waxman.
The waiting list for digital converter box coupons from the halted federal government coupon program now stands at 2 million households. We're 25 days away from February 17th, and no one is yet sure whether the digital television transition will occur on that date or later.
Watch this issue through the end of this week. If there is no movement by then, it's time for the supporters of the delay to throw in the towel and get on with it. Real money is being spent right now by cable operators and broadcasters to be prepared for the onslaught of expected phone calls when the transition occurs. A delay will force us to duplicate some of that spending and probably confuse the market even more.
As I've previously written, a further delay won't solve the problem of educating consumers who remain unprepared at this late date -- they are the same people who waited until the night before a term paper was due to begin to write it. Instead, Congress should either make more funding available for the coupons to restart sending them out or change the rule that prohibits reissuing of new coupons until old ones expire. The experience has been that only 50% of those sent out are redeemed so, if they assume a 75% redemption experience (instead of the current 100%), many more coupons could be sent out immediately without the need for new funding.
Cable Coverage of the Inaugural [CableTechTalk]
The historic inauguration of the nation's forty-fourth president, Barack Obama, is tomorrow. And as with any big event, there are many ways to catch all the action from your television. CableTechTalk has all the bases covered. From BET's coverage of the BET Inaugural Ball to Disney Channel's Kids Inaugural: We Are the Future to C-SPAN's and the national cable news networks day-long coverage of all the events, there's plenty of options on your television to see all the festivities.
If you're wanting to catch the inaugural events on your computer, there are several streaming video options from a variety of sources. NewTeeVee has a running list of the web coverage of President-elect Obama's inauguration. Topping that list, with the most extensive online video coverage, is C-SPAN's Mogulus streaming site. C-SPAN and it's great coverage of the inaugural events are brought to you by a coalition of the nation's cable companies. It's a 25 year-old coalition that has made C-SPAN the go-to network for coverage of our nation's leaders.
Enjoy watching history transpire tomorrow as we inaugurate our nation's next president.
We live in a great nation, but it's not perfect. We could greatly improve is our legislative process which is filled with loopholes. And yesterday is a perfect example of that. Seems like there's going to be billions of dollars for broadband!
Now, I'm not going to opine on the necessity to pass an economic stimulus package nor whether it should be two hundred billion or a trillion dollars. But I am going to react to delivering a TKO to those who urge caution before deciding ending all discussion about net neutrality policy. It's as if people in Washington have decided that it's not even worth hearing from the folks who are experts in broadband networks and the technology that makes them work so well.
It first appeared that President-elect Obama's call for increased broadband availability would not be part of a proposed economic stimulus bill. But details of the proposed stimulus bill, released yesterday, revealed billions of dollars of grants for broadband development and deployment. The U.S. Department of Commerce would have the check writing authority for the grants under the bill.
Here's the catch. All recipients of the grants - whether they're cable companies, telephone companies, or local or state governments - must agree to a set of network neutrality principles adopted by the FCC in 2005. Those principles have never been formally adopted as part of the FCC's rule-making process, and are the subject of a lawsuit currently being argued in front of a federal appeals court. I have argued that those principles are flawed in that they are open to tremendous interpretation and might cause broadband operators to have to implement more intrusive network management policies than we currently use to keep our networks running smoothly.
Furthermore, the bill suggests that funds go to locales that are "unserved and underserved." Come on folks. What is under-served?
I get providing funds for unserved areas. It's a bit like the rural electrification of America. But why under-served? Who are we relying on to interpret what is under-served? Who will decide to write billions of dollars to add more broadband in areas that already have broadband? And, by the way, who will receive those funds?
Aren't there enough legitimate places to spend the bailout money? With the economy in perilous decline, now is the time for Washington to turn over a new leaf and stop spending money unnecessarily.
I hope the Senate considers this issue to be too important to be simply tacked on to the bailout legislation as the House apparently has done.
Rockefeller Working DTV Delay Bill [Multichannel News]
The disagreement among policymakers in DC on the possible delay of the digital transition continues. I've linked to the latest update from Multichannel News. Senator Jay Rockefeller, Chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee, is in the process of drafting legislation that would delay the February 17th digital transition deadline for a yet-to-be-determined period of time. Rockefeller suggests the delay might be 90 days while others are pushing for a 6 month delay.
The news that the federal govenrment's digital converter coupon program has halted sending out additional coupons and has an estimated waiting list of 1.3 million households touched off this debate last week. That was followed up by the president-elect's transition team announcing support for a delay of the February 17th deadline. And yesterday, FCC Commissioner Robert McDowell highlighted a particular concern that I've noted before - the ability for the federal govenment to handle the telephone calls from those television viewers that wake up on February 17th to static.
Regardless of what Washington decides to do with the Februrary 17th deadline, Hawaii will become the first state in the union to make the switch to digital televison today. State officials decided to move up its digital transition deadline because the Hawaiian Dark Rumped-Petrel bird, an endangered species, nests in the television transmission towers on one of the islands. Apparently, the digital equipment switch would have disturbed the birds' nesting if the deadline were not moved up a month. Hawaii's experience will involve the largest switch of television viewers to digital broadcast to date.
Although it may offer the first widespread test about just how much chaos to expect on February 17th, there are some complications. According to Leslie Wilcox, the President of PBS Hawaii, who said on her blog that coverage of the new digital signals may also be reduced because broadcasters were forced to move one of their transmission towers on one of the islands to an altitude some 5,000 feet lower than their current placement. Another complication -- they didn't receive some necessary equipment for their new tower on time and one of the islands will be without PBS for, "a couple of weeks," unless the viewers have cable or satellite.
Wilcox also reported long wait times already at the call center set up to receive inquiries. These calls were generated prior to the actual elimination of the analog signals -- they came from viewers simply reading the "explanatory" crawl at the bottom of the screen warning people of the impending switchover. I know that the Obama transition team has focused on that very issue and I believe they have a pretty good plan to "man the phones" on February 17th.
Let's keep our fingers crossed. Hawaii, we're all counting on 'ya.
DTV, It's Just Not Your Day [Broadcasting and Cable]
Will the digital television transition actually occur on February 17th? Cable operators and broadcasters have been promoting readiness for the transition with that date in mind for many months now. But, with the news that the Federal government's digital converter box coupon program has been halted due to a lack of funds and Nielsen reports asserting that millions of American households are still unprepared for digital television, there is now a movement among some policymakers, especially the Obama transition team, to delay the February 17th deadline. This article outlines the participants in the debate and their current position on a DTV delay.
The cable industry is prepared to do its part whether the transition occurs in February or some few months later. The Obama transition team, to their credit, recently focused on how to become more prepared to receive millions of inquiries at the time of transition. Until they began to look into this, I was deeply concerned at the lack of preparation to handle those calls.
I understand the future administration's decision to seek a delay given the state of preparation they found. They also inherited a digital converter coupon program that has, amazingly, run out of money. Congress needs to fix that and, if they do so quickly, I wonder if we're not simply better off just getting on with this. No matter when the transition actually occurs, there will be many people who are unprepared so I question whether a delay would meaningfully reduce the unavoidable confusion or simply add more because of the changing date.
Unfortunately, I worry that we won't know the outcome of the debate over the delay soon enough. But, at the risk of sounding like a broken record every time we talk about this, rest assured that if your televisions are connected to cable, you'll be fine, no matter when the transition occurs. Right now, it's still February 17th and if that changes, you'll read about it here.