Rep. Rick Boucher, chairman of the House Communications, Tech & Internet Subcommittee, said Tuesday that he would hold an oversight hearing on the DTV transition in the spring, "well before" the new June 12 hard date for pulling the plug on analog signals.
The committee's next hearing will be of great interest to the cable industry, however. Boucher said next up will be a March 12 hearing on universal service reform. Boucher said he hoped to have a bill reforming universal service done in the next several months.
Boucher (D. Va.) said the reason DTV was not "the most immediate" thing on the agenda was that he wanted to wait until the $650 million in the economic stimulus package earmarked to jump start the converter box coupon program had been freed up and the program "reenergized."
The National Telecommuniations & Information Administration can't start taking millions of coupon requests off the waiting list until the Office of Management and Budget gives it the OK, which is supposed to happen any time.
Boucher announced that hearing after Rep. Greg Walden (R-Ore.) suggested the committee should look into the need for spending that $650 million, including $90 million for outreach and education, given the fact that the switch by hundreds of stations on the original date of Feb. 17 had gone so smoothly.
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