Press Release

Public Knowledge Supports ‘Hard Date’ for Return of Digital TV Spectrum

June 15, 2005 ,

For Immediate Release

Public Knowledge, the Washington D.C.-based advocacy group, told senior legislators that Congress should set a deadline for having broadcasters return spectrum now being used for “analog” television broadcasts.

In a letter sent to the leaders of the House and Senate Commerce Committees, and the House Subcommittee on Telecommunications and the Internet, Public Knowledge President Gigi B. Sohn wrote that, “Completing the transition to digital television is vitally important for the economic and social well being of this country.”

The returned spectrum could be used to help public safety and law-enforcement personnel to communicate, to fill in cellular phone coverage and to provide another competitor for high-speed Internet services to consumers. The Jan. 1, 2009 date frequently mentioned for an analog cutoff should give everyone involved time to educate consumers about the transition to digital over-the-air television.

Broadcasters should have a significant responsibility to provide public education on the transition, Sohn said, saying that the “main factor that will spell the difference between a relatively smooth and difficulty digital TV transition is public education.” She noted the broadcast industry “has done little, if anything,” to promote the transition,” and suggested that if broadcasters don't commit to an education program, “Congress should consider mandating that broadcasters provide it.”

Acknowledging that there are a variety of issues surrounding the transition, such as the potential need for a subsidy program for digital-to-analog converter boxes, Sohn said that “Public Knowledge's core interest is in the swift return of the spectrum,” and that the ultimate resolution of the subsidy for converter boxes or other issues “is of secondary importance.”

The letter was sent to House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Barton (R-Tex.), ranking member Dingell (D-Mich.), Subcommittee Chairman Upton (R-Mich.) and ranking member Markey (D-Mass.) on the House side. On the Senate side, the letter was sent to Senate Commerce Committee Chairman Stevens (R-Alaska) and ranking member Inouye (D-Hawaii).

Here is the link for the letter on our Web site: https://www.publicknowledge.org/news/letters/dtv-transition-deadline-20050615