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DTV Transition Still Concerns Inouye

Senate Commerce Committee chairman Daniel Inouye (D-Hawaii) said he still has some major concerns about the digital-TV transition.

Responding to a Government Accountability Office report Tuesday that said full-power broadcasters are generally prepared to make the switch to digital broadcasting Feb. 17, 2009, he said a closer look revealed "a number of hurdles," mostly dealing with consumer education or the lack of it.

He pointed to the fact that a number of stations, potentially hundreds, may have to pull the plug or power down early on analog. "Such early termination may confuse consumers and leave them scrambling for converter boxes before the end of the transition," he said. "The FCC [Federal Communications Commission] will need to work very closely with broadcasters to ensure that consumers are educated about how the decisions of their local broadcasters will impact them."

Inouye said he also continued to be concerned that consumers were still not sufficiently well-educated about the transition and its "potential pitfalls." He added that "far too many Americans are unaware of or unprepared for Feb. 17, 2009."

The TV industry is in the midst of a public-education campaign that includes public-service announcements, on-air crawls, speeches, printed materials, traveling demonstrations and more, but the message is complicated, with some stations pulling the plug early, some analog-only viewers on the fringes likely to lose some of the stations they are used to and most low-power TV stations and translators continuing to broadcast in analog well beyond that February 2009 date.