Skip to main content

NAB 2009: NTIA's Gomez 'Cautiously Optimistic' About DTV Transition

NAB 2009: Complete Coverage from Broadcasting & Cable

Acting NTIA chief Anna Gomez is "cautiously optimistic" there will be enough coupons and converter boxes for the DTV transition in June and that interruptions to service will be minimized, she said at an NAB conference appearance alongside FCC Commissioner Jonathan Adelstein Tuesday afternoon in Las Vegas.

"The gradual approach has enabled us to focus our efforts and resources on the last few million households (that are not prepared)," Gomez says, adding that "as long as there is not a huge spike between now and the conversion" she expects a smooth transition.

Gomez says she has had concern about the supply of converter boxes to meet consumer demand but has been working with retailers to accurately track the demand. Coupons will be accepted until the end of July, which puts the latest redemptions at the end of November. "There will always be people who do nothing until their TV goes blank" and "the goal is to minimize those situations."

Adelstein, whose nomination to head the Rural Utilities Service was sent to the Senate Tuesday, exuded a similarly upbeat attitude, bringing a filled conference room to laugh out loud several times with off-the-cuff comments.

When asked about the FCC's priorities ahead, Adelstein said he couldn't make predictions but "it will not have a KGB atmosphere anymore." That was a reference to criticism of former FCC chairman Kevin Martin's management of the agency.

He acknowledges he is not worried about a pink slip -- or blue box, as they call it at the FCC for the box used to pack up sacked employees' belongings.

In addition, Adelstein says the $65 million in education funds the NTIA had marked for the FCC is "enough for 120 NASCARs," poking fun at the FCC expenditure under Martin of several hundred thousand dollars to sponsor a race car which notably crashed and burned.

Adelstein and Gomez also discussed localism and spectrum issues, respectively. Gomez says NTIA will be adding players to the spectrum advisory committee and has "other things up out sleeves as the administration moves forward."