Martin firm on Feb. '09 DTV switch


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LAS VEGAS -- FCC commissioner Kevin Martin is standing firm on the deadline for the transition to digital television.

In a wide-ranging interview Tuesday at the Consumer Electronics Show, Martin stressed that giving into requests to postpone the end of analog TV on Feb. 17, 2009, defeated the purpose of the transition: allowing wireless broadband services to proliferate at the 700 MHz level.

"Having an actual day certain, when we know this will be cleared of broadcast use, is going to be important for people to be preparing it and rolling out services as quickly as possible," Martin said.

The FCC has been criticized for rushing toward a transition while many U.S. consumers are unaware that their analog sets will require new equipment in order to function next year.

But in response to charges that the government has done little to educate the public, Martin countered that timing such messages is critical.

"I think in general we don't want to put too much emphasis on that too early," he said.

Martin held forth on many issues pertinent to the FCC, from reinforcing his desire to create an a la carte model for the cable industry to acknowledging that Comcast would be subject to investigation over allegations it discriminated against heavy users of its broadband service.

"Sure, we're going to investigate and make sure that no consumer is going to be blocked," Martin said.

Just hours after Martin appeared at CES, the House and Energy Committee announced that the FCC would face an investigation of its own over allegations of improper handling of its recent vote on relaxing media ownership restrictions.