Chairman Rockefeller Statement On The Transition To All Digital Programming

Urges Administration & National Association of Broadcasters to Help Consumers in Need

June 5, 2009

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Chairman Jay Rockefeller today reminded Americans of the nation’s upcoming transition to digital television (DTV), and sent letters to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), and the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB), urging them to help consumers before, during and after the conversion. 

The letters are available here.

On June 12th, full-power television stations across the country will stop broadcasting in analog and switch to digital signals. This will not affect cable or satellite subscribers, those with televisions with digital receivers, or those who have converter boxes for their older analog television sets. However, consumers using antennas to watch free over-the-air television are at risk of losing their reception after the transition.

“With the transition now only days away, I would like to remind people across our state to be prepared so they continue to receive the important news and public safety information television provides,” Rockefeller said. “I am especially concerned about protecting our most vulnerable citizens, which is why I have asked the Obama Administration and broadcasters to help those in need as we go through this historic switch.

“This transition is an important step in moving us forward with the best available 21st Century technology,” Rockefeller continued. “But we must be sure none of our citizens are left behind.”

As Chairman of the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, Rockefeller successfully fought to extend the DTV transition deadline from February 17th, 2009 to June 12th, 2009, giving the new Administration time to make sure Americans are not left in the dark. As a result, millions more consumers received DTV converter box coupons in time for the transition, the FCC established more than 12,000 walk-in DTV help centers across the country, and the number of unprepared households fell by 60 percent.