Jan 7, 2009

Is Feb. 17 the big switch? Perhaps not ...

The long-anticipated analog-to-digital signal switch may end up delayed. A spokesman for Massachusetts Dem. Rep. Ed Markey, chair of the House Telecommunications & Internet Subcommittee, says that delaying the switch "certainly warrants further discussion and may be a wise choice" in the wake of problems with the converter coupon program. The Consumers Union requested the delay "until a plan is in place to minimize the number of consumers who will lose TV signals ... " According to Broadcasting & Cable, the Obama transition team may be open to the delay.

PBS' Kerger laments DTV coupon shortage

PBS head Paula Kerger says she is "disheartened" that the feds have come up short on money for DTV converter box coupons ahead of the Feb. 17 transition. The National Telecommunications and Information Administration, handling the coupon program for the Commerce Department, created a waiting list for incoming requests as of Jan. 4 after hitting the $1.34 billion limit set by Congress. The NAB has also asked the FCC and Congress to assist with the coupon backlog.

Maine pubcasting delays shutdowns

Ongoing talks with state and local officials and station members have prompted the Maine Public Broadcasting Network to delay the shutdown of two of its transmitters, set for Jan. 15, until Feb. 28. President Jim Dowe says the transmitters will continue operation as talks progress. The network has made staff cuts, salary reductions and other cutbacks in the wake of cuts in funding, including loss of a $400,000 federal rural development grant it has used for 14 years.

Vogelzang to exit VPR

Robin Turnau will succeed Mark Vogelzang as president and c.e.o. of Vermont Public Radio, the network announced yesterday. Vogelzang received a "really terrific offer" to lead a national fundraising effort for public radio stations, he said yesterday during an interview on VPR's Vermont Edition. Vogelzang, top executive since 1993, led VPR through a major service expansion. Turnau, v.p. of development since 2004, has been with VPR for 20 years.