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Blunt Speaks Out About Possible Change to DTV Transition Date

On February 17th, television stations across America will make the switch from analog transmission to digital broadcasting. However, some members of Congress, along with President Obama, have suggested moving that date to later in the year. On Friday, Missouri Congressman Roy Blunt spoke out about the importance of adhering to the scheduled date. KSMU’s Brett Moser reports.

Though some in Washington feel that the country is not prepared for the switch to digital television, Congressman Blunt says public safety is a key reason to follow through with the transition.

Speaking alongside fire and law enforcement officers at the KOZK studios on the Missouri State campus, Blunt says the switch will open up frequencies to help various agencies communicate during a crisis.

Blunt says, "Even in a community that has invested and planned to have all of their immediate first responders interoperable, that doesn't work in a huge crisis because the people that come in to help aren't on the same system you're on."

One argument from those in Washington advocating a change in date say many Americans don’t yet have the necessary converter box or are on a waiting list to receive a government coupon. Blunt says the solution to that particular problem is simple.

Blunt says, "The easiest solution to that problem is just send the coupons out. There's not going to be a huge swindle of people out there trying to use their coupons and their cash to buy unnecessary converter boxes."

Blunt says he helped draw up a bill to make sure anyone who needs a converter box receives the government coupon. He added, however, that he’s not sure if that bill will pass.

As of now, the switch to digital television is set to take place on February 17th.

Those who receive their channels through satellite or cable are automatically ready for the switchover. But those who receive television thru an antenna or rabbit ears will need a converter box to continue receiving channels.

For KSMU News, I’m Brett Moser.