Obama asks for DTV extension


Idaho Public Television engineer Rich Van Genderen demonstrates DTV setup for seniors at Hillcrest Library. / Gavin Dahl

President-Elect Barack Obama is asking Congress to delay the cutoff date for analog television transmission beyond Feb. 17, according to a letter from transition team co-chairman John Podesta that was obtained by Broadcasting and Cable Magazine.

BW writer Gavin Dahl forwarded the letter our way. Dahl wrote about the many outstanding problems in the DTV transition in our final issue of 2008.

Dahl's story foreshadows some of the concerns expressed in Obama's missive: 1 million coupon requests for converter boxes are outstanding and the fund is empty, poor, rural and elderly Americans will be disproportionately affected and funds to prepare the public for an end to analog TV are inadequate. Obama's team indicates that additional funding for the DTV transition will appear in an economic stimulus package, as well.

Obama staffers are already working with Congress to draft a DTV transition extension bill.

Incidentally, Idaho Public Television hosts another DTV Answers call in show tonight, at 8 p.m. By all means, call in.

UPDATE: Idaho Statesman says most Boise valley broadcasters oppose the delay.