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Senate DTV-Oversight Hearing a Go

As expected, the Senate announced a digital-TV oversight hearing to get a status report on the transition and lessons being learned from the early analog cutoff in Wilmington, N.C.

According to a notice sent out Thursday night, the Senate Commerce Committee will hold a “Countdown to February 2009” hearing Sept. 23 at 2:30 p.m.

Look for Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) to have some pointed questions about the digital cliff effect and viewers who may lose TV reception despite having bought new DTV sets or hooked up their DTV-to-analog converter boxes correctly. Sen Bernard Sanders (I-VT) is also said to be concerned.

Among the witnesses will be FCC Chairman Kevin Martin,  and National Telecommunicadtions & Information Administraiton acting head Meredith Atwell Baker, NCTA President Kyle McSlarrow and NAB President David Rehr.,

The House is holding a similar hearing Sept. 16. In that hearing, sources said to look for particularly keen interest from representatives from rural and mountainous areas, such as Rick Boucher (R-Va.).

One knock on Wilmington as a test market was that it was flat terrain (a coastal town), while antenna issues are more likely to crop up in more mountainous and hard-to-read rural areas.