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Hill Shout-Out For DTV

The digital transition got a shout-out from Capitol Hill on Tuesday.

At a House Communications Subcommittee hearing on reauthorization of a satellite compulsory license bill, ranking Republican Cliff Stearns (R-FL) said that the transition had gone smoothly "by most reports."

He suggested it was time to move forward. He conceded there were still some issues with re-scanning boxes and stations that would need to boost power, but that, in general, it had gone well and the government probably didn't need to put all that extra money--$650 million--into the program.

Stearns had opposed the inclusion of that extra DTV dough in the economic stimulus package, saying there were ways to address the perceived problem short of putting lots more money into it.

Rep. Ed Markey (D-MA) reminded the hearing audience that he had held the first hearing on high-definition TV as then chairman of the subcommittee 22 years earlier, and had no idea it would take that long for the DTV switch.

But he said that delaying the hard date had appeared to allow three million more households to be better educated and prepared. "This is a government program that worked," he said.