Dingell Criticizes Bush’s Budget Allocation for Digital Transition Education

Feb 5, 2008  •  Post A Comment

President Bush is proposing in his new budget to give the FCC $20 million to educate consumers on the digital transition. However, a key Democrat says it’s not enough money and that the government is doing the transition “on the cheap.”
The new money comes amidst criticism from Congress that the Federal Communications Commission isn’t sufficiently coordinating and informing consumers about the transition that takes place Feb. 17, 2009, and consumers could be left in the lurch.
To date, the government has put $5 million toward education. That money has gone to the Commerce Department’s National Telecommunications & Information Administration—not the FCC—to publicize the discounts the government is offering for the set-top converter boxes that will allow analog sets to receive digital signals. Households without cable or satellite can request coupons for $40 off the price of the converter boxes.
Congressmen and some FCC commissioners have complained that the education effort doesn’t adequately tell consumers how to continue receiving TV.
House Energy & Commerce Committee Chairman John Dingell, D-Mich., who has been among the most critical of the transition efforts in Congress, suggested that while the $20 million is an improvement, it’s still insufficient.
“This is far too little to educate a nation of 300 million people,” he said in a statement. “Television is the primary means by which the public receives news concerning public safety and national security, so public awareness of the digital television transition is critical. If we are truly concerned about the safety and security of our nation, we should not be attempting this transition on the cheap.”


  1. If the public is so stupid they need $20M of taxpayer’s money to tell them about the coming shift to HDTV, then let them eat cake, as far as I am concerned. By now, even the idiots in Washington should be able to figure out what is happening. Those politicians, who cavalierly hand out millions of our money for dumb ideas like this, should be hung out to dry, never to be elected again.

  2. Well Red Blanchard, they need to spend more money educating you because the shift is to DTV not HDTV. Congressman Dingell, I have your poster child for education right here.

  3. Easy there David. Consumers know it as HDTV while the industry technically calls it a transition to DTV. Let’s not get to caught up in terms. $20M is plenty from a goverment running in red ink. The responsibility to educate consumers really belongs to the TV industry. That’s who profits from the advertising dollars. The networks and stations have the platforms to do the educating and promoting. Where better to educate about new TV technology than to those watching TV?
    The networks and stations can do that without the feds spending $50 – $100 mil. The TV manufacturer and entertainment industry is big enough to handle this. They don’t need a free ride from my tax dollars!

  4. What’s truly sad, aside from the fact that the quoted amounts of money are required, is that local broadcasters still don’t want to run simple PSAs informing viewers of the change unless forced by the FCC.
    These broadcasters are given an extremely valuable commodity – the right to broadcast over the airwaves – and aren’t willing to give up 60 seconds of ad time over the course of an evening to publicize how viewers will be able to continue to receive their broadcasts!
    What other industry would be unwilling to be able to educate its customers to an upcoming change that may result in them losing customers?!?!

  5. Easy there Dan, DTV and HDTV are different technologies. The transition is from analog TV broadcasting to digital TV broadcasting. That is what this transition encompasses. That is what Dingell is commenting on. Don’t confuse the issue.

  6. Red-
    You write–> “If the public is so stupid they need $20M of taxpayer’s money to tell them about the coming shift to HDTV…”
    Actually, the shift is from analog to digital TV transmission. No TV station is obligated to broadcast in HDTV (i.e., 720p or 1080i)… and digital may or may not be HD… it may be HD, or or SD, or Audio only or Data only… and so on.
    -Dawn McGatney

  7. Some of you people are jumping on the wrong wagon. I, and most people, probably use HDTV and HD interchangeably. A mere matter of semantics, which does not address the wasteful ideas of the bureaucrats.

  8. Red- Agreed, most folks harmlessly use HD and HDTV interchangeably.
    The problem occurs when digital and HD (or HDTV) are used interchangably. Draw a small circle and label it HD. Then surround the small circle with a larger circle and call that one digital.
    HD is a subset of digital; all HD is digital, but digital may or may not be HD.
    You stated–> If the public is so stupid they need $20M of taxpayer’s money to tell them about the coming shift to HDTV…
    Yet you yourself appear to be confused; there is no “coming shift to HDTV” (or to HD); the shift is from analog to digital transmission for full-power TV stations. Some digital transmissions are HDTV; and some are not.
    -Dawn McGatney

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