Hutchison Staffer Cites Ongoing DTV Transition Issues

Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX) has "a couple of things" that concern her about the current state of the DTV transition, including whether there could be a way to compensate broadcasters for some of their costs in moving the transition date. "That is a conversation I think we're still hoping to have going forward," Brian Hendricks, legislative counsel to Senator Hutchison, said Tuesday.

That comment drew some applause from the crowd of broadcasters he was addressing at a National Association of Broadcasters State Leadership Conference in Washington.

The energy costs to keep an analog signal operating are a real concern to some broadcasters. Maintaining analog service for the Media General group costs $150,000 in electricity per month alone, a Media General executive told B&C recently.

Hendricks said another concern was that the committee has not had a DTV oversight hearing yet. Kerry did not
give a date for the DTV oversight hearing, but said it would be sometime in
May. The House held its DTV oversight hearing last week. Communications, Technology & Internet Subcommittee Chairman John Kerry (D-MA), told reporters Tuesday that a DTV oversight hearing was on priority list, but did not supply a date.

Hutchison teamed with Senate Commerce Committee Chairman Jay Rockefeller (D-WVA) on the bill that moved the analog cut-off hard date from Feb. 17 to June 12.

Hendricks gave some insight into why Hutchison broke with many of her Republican colleagues to support moving the date. He said she would have preferred not to have to move the date. "That was not her first impulse." But she had concerns about issues with stations on the border with Mexico, concerns about folks dislocated along the Gulf Coast by Hurricane Ike who had expired conbverter box coupons coupons and concerns about eligibility issues in terms of day laborers who use Post Office Boxes that were not eligible for the coupons.

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.