CEA Says DTV Switch Delay Would Be ‘Disruptive’

Jan 12, 2009  •  Post A Comment

The Consumer Electronics Association, which represents major TV and consumer electronics makers, is warning against pushing back the digital TV transition from Feb. 17, suggesting a delay could only “confuse Americans” and would be a “serious and potentially disruptive step.”
“Changing the date in and of itself will simply confuse Americans while doing little to promote a successful transition to digital television,” Gary Shapiro, the group’s president-CEO, wrote to John Podesta, co-chair of the Obama-Biden Transition Team.
“A change in the date could engender skepticism, confusion and distrust the next time government asks them to undertake specific actions in anticipation of a major event,” Mr. Shapiro said in his letter. “Government, industry and hundreds of consumer groups have cooperated and spent the last two years and hundreds of millions of dollars to make Americans aware of the transition. With awareness now close to 100%, any change will be confusing and difficult to explain.”
Mr. Podesta last week wrote congressional lawmakers urging a delay. While his letter didn’t mention a date, broadcasters say the date being considered is some time in June. Senate Commerce Committee chairman Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., is preparing legislation that is expected to propose a delay.
Mr. Shapiro in his letter warned that a delay would be expensive. He said a public service advertising campaign would have to be continued for additional months and the delay explained. Also, the administrative costs for providing coupons for digital TV converter boxes would go up as the program had to be extended and additional coupons issued; and stations would have to pay more to keep both analog and digital TV stations on the air for longer.
He also warned that a delay may not result in any increase in the number of converter boxes available, despite some warnings that there could be a shortfall.
“Retailers have ordered and manufacturers have produced most of the converter boxes they planned based on a Feb. 17 transition date,” he said.
Mr. Shapiro instead suggested the government provide more of the $40 coupons for converter boxes or act to eliminate the 90-day expiration of coupons.
A spokeswoman for the transition office declined comment on the letter.


  1. Thanks to Mr. Shapiro for looking out for his lobbying clients. Consumers will and are being ripped off by Congress and the FCC…and by manufacturers, retailers, and the cable industry who will make windfall profits next month and in years to come …but Mr. Shapiro says the digital transition will be too expensive. For whom, sir?

  2. The transition should go forth as planned.
    Procrastinaters will have to follow the rules and pay full price for converter boxes. Plain and simple we need to go ALL digital. The benifits are overwhelming compared to analog television. My cupons were requested Jan 1 2008…..or on day 1. Boxes in by March 08. So thats too bad for people who want to wine away. Febuary 17 is set, and by god it must happen.

  3. The disruption is to the floundering U.S. Treasury! As long as the stations keep their analog frequencies, the government is delayed in auctioning them off to the cellphone companies.
    Am I the only person who recalls that the U.S. government was in a really big hurry to make the switchover, because of the lucrative sale of frequencies. Every day that goes by is another day the Treasury goes without the proceeds. It may not be the $10 trillion of U.S. debt, but the last estimate I read was $50 billion (about 15% of the recent $350 billion bailout)

  4. Face it.
    Technology improve, and those that do not upgrade get left behind.
    I am going to sue because my commodore 64 cannot read news from CNN.com. I am going to sue because I cannot buy the latest Beyonce album on 8 track, I am going to sue because I cannot rent VHS tapes at blockbuster anymore.
    The fact that the American taxpayer is subsidising people’s ability to watch TV is absurd!

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