FCC Chairman Says DTV Delay Would Further Confuse Consumers

KMartin_1.10.JPGFCC chairman Kevin Martin hopes the switch to digital TV still happens on Feb. 17, as has long been planned. This week Pres.-elect Obama’s transition team called for a delay, saying a lack of funds means some Americans won’t be able to make the switch. Martin, speaking during a Q&A session with the CEO & president of the CEA, Gary Shapiro, told the crowd that delaying it would only further cause confusion for consumers who would then not trust whatever new date is chosen.

Martin, who was appointed by Pres. Bush, will likely give up his chairmanship of the FCC when the Obama Administration takes power.

Our Twitter coverage of the session is below (with most recent Tweets up top):

• Martin gets big thank you from CEA’s Gary Shapiro

• Martin on mobile TV: it’s something I’ve been urging the broadcasters to participate in. Another benefit of switch from analog to digital.

• Martin looking ahead: We have to continue investing in the infrastructure. Wireless broadband is the most exciting thing going.

• Martin on Vchip: poor rating system. Super Bowl is not rated, so Janet Jackson “episode” could not have been stopped by the Vchip.

• Martin: the government’s role in protecting our children goes beyond indecency: Obesity; violence in entertainment.

• Martin on DMA (TV market size) realignment: should be done by the industry not by the FCC.

• Martin: FCC should help preserve openness, but discourage price controls.

• Martin: “It’s not the role of government to tell manufacturers how to build their product.”

• Martin: FCC should be involved in giving rural consumers access to broadband. “We can do more with the resources we have.”

• Back to DTV switch: Martin says keep the date but fix the coupon program.

• Martin: if you look at broadband, price has gone down, but speed has gone up. The one difference is cable where rates are still high.

• Martin on why some regulation is good: there’s always times that markets won’t deliver what consumers need.

• Rep. Darrell Issa (R) CA in the room.

• Martin: 95% of people are aware of the Feb. 17th date. “What kind of a message does this send?” if the switch is delayed.

• Martin: “I’m concerned by the consumer confusion that this may cause.” “Any date we do choose, people won’t believe.”

• Martin on DTV delay: ultimately it’s up to congress. But they need to act fast. Shapiro knocks decision: “is this change we can believe in?”

• Shapiro: elephant in the room: DTV delay. Martin: I’m concerned about it. We need to do something about the coupon program.

• Martin on regrets: certainly there are mistakes I’ve made. I wish we’d made more progress on creating more competition for cable.

• Martin: I think the commission has done a hood job keeping a level playing field.

• Martin on FCC under Obama admin: continued innovation will have to change our anti-trust kind of thinking.

• Martin talks about debates among FCC. CES’s Shapiro says it’s like a marriage. “Yeah, but I don’t think I want to marry any of the cmsrs”

• Delay of DTV transition not yet discussed. Touched-upon, but no reaction from Martin to possible delay.

• Martin’s term ends in 2011 but Pres.-elect Obama will likely appoint a new chairman.