Sanders Supports Digital TV Delay

WASHINGTON, January 8 - Senator Bernie Sanders made the following statement today regarding the decision by the transition team of President-elect Barack Obama to call for the postponement of a government-mandated transition of broadcast television to a digital format, scheduled for February 17, 2009.

Sanders said, "I applaud the decision to delay the transition to digital television. The incompetence of the Bush administration means that if we had gone ahead with the switch on February 17, not only would millions of Americans not have gotten the coupons they were promised on time, but millions of Americans would find themselves with no television reception or fewer channels."

Sanders introduced the "Digital TV Transition Fairness Act" yesterday to help people afford to install a digital television converter or antennas. The bill also would require a basic broadcast service from paid-TV providers (i.e. cable and satellite) for $10 a month for anyone who loses channels due to the transition.

Sanders first broached the idea of delaying the transition in a Sept. 19 letter to Kevin Martin, the Federal Communication Commission chairman. "A delay of the DTV transition date is… something I believe should be contemplated. Americans should not be forced to pay for cable, satellite, or other telecommunications video services to get their free broadcast channels because the government did not properly plan for this transition."