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Hearing of the Telecommunications and the Internet Subcommittee of the House Energy and Commerce Committee - The Role of Technology in Achieving a Hard Deadline for the Dtv Transition

Hearing

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Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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Mr. Walden. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. I appreciate your holding this hearing on this DTV conversion issue, and I want to especially thank our witnesses for their testimony today. I have read the report from the General Accounting--or the Government Accountability Office. I have to keep reminding myself of the name change there. And I appreciate it, because it really lays out, in a very factual context, the kind of TV tax we are looking at here. And I label it there because somewhere between $463 million and $10 billion is at issue here.

And for what? I am a Republican. I came here as a Republican. I intend to leave as a Republican, and I think the marketplace is probably the best place to resolve this issue. And consumers aren't exactly ready for this transition and apparently, according to the GAO's report, aren't necessarily embracing what it may cost them. Over time, they will get there, but if we drop this hammer on consumers, the sledgehammer is going to come back on us, as it should. I am concerned about issues relating to down-converting when broadcasters are having to convert their signals to digital only to have the bulk of their audience see it in analog, because there is no requirement on cable to maintain that digital pass-through. And then I don't know how I am going to explain a drop dead date to consumers when they realize the three to five television sets they have in their house no longer will function as of a given date. I know the pushback that is received by us when there is a small add-on fee on a phone bill, for example, of 25 cents a month or something. I hasten to wonder what that feedback will be when that fee is somewhere in the $50 to $100 range just to watch TV. And for those who may not have read the constitution lately having gone through the satellite TV issues, I have found this little clause that says being able to watch TV is a constitutional right that we will all hear about.

And so, Mr. Chairman, I appreciate the opportunity to hear from our witnesses today, and I look forward to this vigorous debate.

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