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CTAM: U.S. Congressmen: Cable Must Help with Digital Transition

Two U.S. Congressmen urged cable operators to help broadcasters raise consumer awareness of the nation’s transition to digital television on Feb. 17, 2009 this morning at an annual convention for cable marketers.

“Cable companies’ stake isn’t as great [as broadcasters’] but their contribution should be equally important,” said Congressman Rick Boucher. (D-VA).

Congress has designated Feb. 17, 2009, as the date when all U.S. television signals will transition from analog to digital in an effort to free up that spectrum, freeing it up for commercial and public service uses.

Boucher, who serves on the Telecommunications & Internet Subcommittee, said operators, as a form of public service, should make announcements on TV and include inserts in monthly mailings, among other efforts.

He estimated that more than 70 million televisions are analog and dependent on over the air signals, and said only about 10 million of those have cable. He was speaking to a crowd of some 2,700 attendees at the the annual CTAM (Cable Telecommunications Association for Marketing) summit in WashingtonDC.

Boucher’s colleague Greg Walden (R-OR) echoed the sentiment and said operators should help avoid confusion in 2009.

Readying consumers for the digital transition is indeed the cable industry’s responsibility as much as broadcast’s, said National Cable and Telecommunications Association President/CEO Kyle McSlarrow on the same panel.

“We have a responsibility to step up as well,” McSlarrow said. “This is not just a broadcaster issue.”