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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.

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.