In a letter to key members of the House and Senate today, Obama Transition Team co-chair John Podesta requested that Congress postpone the switch from analog to digital television broadcasting currently scheduled for Feb. 17.
Podesta pointed out that there are scarce supplies of coupons to help consumers switch from analog to digital television signals by purchasing converter boxes, with more than one million Americans on a waiting list for the coupons with the National Telecommunications and Information Administration, the arm of the Commerce Department supervising the switch.
"With coupons unavailable, support and education insufficient, and the most vulnerable Americans exposed, I urge you to consider a change to the legislatively mandated analog cutoff date," wrote the former Clinton White House chief of staff.
The letters went to Sens. Jay Rockefeller, D-WV, and Kay Bailey Hutchinson, R-Texas, chair and ranking Republican on the Senate Commerce Committee, and Reps. Henry Waxman, D-Calif., and Joe Barton, R-Texas, of the House Energy and Commerce Committee.
The Associated Press reports that Meredith Attwell Baker, head of the NTIA, said the Bush administration opposes a delay since the government and broadcasters have "invested so much in preparing for this date." A delay, she said, "would create uncertainty, frustration and confusion among consumers."
A spokesperson for News Corp, which owns Fox News, says that “News Corporation supports any efforts to ensure that the transition to digital television is a success. Our first concern is what’s best for our viewers, and we believe that the Obama-Biden Transition Team shares our concern. We look forward to continuing to work with the Administration, Congress, and the FCC to achieve a smooth DTV transition.”