Statement by Senator Hutchison on Shift of DTV Transition Date

January 23, 2009

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas), Ranking Member of the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee, today released the following statement on legislation to shift the nation’s digital television transition from February 17, 2009 to June 12, 2009.

“I had serious concerns about shifting the digital television transition without a sound plan to inform consumers or address the converter box coupon shortage,” said Senator Hutchison.  “I am pleased that Chairman Rockefeller worked with me to address many of the concerns with the early proposals.  These changes will help consumers whose coupons have expired, and allow TV stations that are prepared, and ready, to move forward without the requirement of simulcasting. Senator Rockefeller’s personal commitment to me to not seek another delay provides needed certainty to bring this transition to a conclusion. Significant challenges remain, however, and I will continue working with my colleagues in Congress to ensure a smooth transition to digital television for all Americans.”

Key provisions of the compromise bill include the following:

·         In order to better educate consumers about the transition, and to provide consumers with ample opportunity to utilize the converter-box coupon program, the digital transition will shift from February 17, 2009 to June 12, 2009.

·         Over-the-air broadcast television stations may voluntarily switch from analog to digital service before June 12, 2009.  Stations that are fully prepared for the switch can make the transition early through a Federal Communications Commission process.  In addition to the several markets that already have made the transition, many additional markets are expected to be prepared to make the transition prior to June 12, 2009 – this bill will permit these stations to transition early and bring consumers the advantages of digital service as quickly as possible.

·         In the event a broadcast station switches early to digital service, public safety services may start using the vacated spectrum. 

·         Consumers with expired coupons may apply for new replacement coupons. This provides relief to consumers who, because of natural disasters, retail or mail issues, were unable to redeem their coupons.

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