Digital Transisition Coalition

Frustrated at the slow pace of the changeover to digital television, a wide range of companies and public interest groups have organized as the Digital Transition Coalition (DTC) to promote the format and to hasten the "return of critical spectrum back to the American taxpayer for use in new technologies," according to an announcement made April 20.

The DTC includes Americans for Tax Reform, Council for Citizens Against Government Waste, EchoStar Communications Corp., Frontiers of Freedom, Media Access Project, Public Knowledge, and the Small Business Survival Committee. "We have come together as taxpayer groups, consumer advocates and technology leaders to fight for policies which will finally make the transition a reality," said George Landrith, president of Frontiers of Freedom. Landrith spoke for all DTC members in expressing ire at the fact that the US is now "almost two years" past the original deadline for the changeover, but "more than 60% of television stations have still not met that obligation."

The DTC will push for "immediate availability of the network DTV signals to all consumers nationwide; immediate redeployment of the analog spectrum dedicated for public safety access nationwide; the return of the broadcasters' analog spectrum by December 31, 2006; and the auctioning of the analog spectrum by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) by December 31, 2007.

The DTC unveiled a new website funded by its members to provide information on the campaign and to encourage citizen support for legislative proposals that will achieve the goals, according to the announcement. "The American public is demanding access to more digital programming, which represents the future of technology, and lawmakers need to give the industry the tools to deliver that programming," said Tom Schatz, president of the Council for Citizens Against Government Waste.

"Local broadcasters are currently sitting on . . . hundreds of billions of dollars worth of analog spectrum that Congress gave them to make this transition," said Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform. "By taking steps to speed up the transition, we can ensure that this spectrum is returned by December 31, 2006 as required."