National Telecommunications and Information Administration
• Asst. Secretary
• Domestic Policy
• Telecom Research
Media & Press
Speeches: Wilmington, North Carolina, Digital Television
Transition Test Market
Monday, September 8, 2008
Meredith Attwell Baker
Thank you to the people of Wilmington, North Carolina, and to the leaders assembled in this room who have made a historic journey over the past four months, a transition completed five and a half months ahead of the rest of the country. It’s just amazing. But who would have doubted that the state that was “First in Flight” would also be the sight of the first city to experience fully the Future of Television—Digital Television.
We are pleased that the major stakeholders in this digital transition stepped up their efforts in Wilmington, to what appears to be great success. For example, local broadcasters were great in changing their messaging quickly, so that those consumers who needed to hear about and act on the earlier September 8, 2008, transition date, did so and were not confused. We thank them and the leadership of the National Association of Broadcasters for spearheading this early transition. The temporary analog shutdowns also are useful to help consumers pinpoint whether they really need a converter box.
The consumer electronics industry and box manufacturers stepped up with converter box donations to nursing homes and troubleshooting advice for consumers.
Local firefighters and community groups have helped with technical assistance, including helping consumers fill out applications and converter box installation for vulnerable community members.
And the FCC staff have mobilized local organizations on the ground and worked hard so that as few consumers as possible are adversely affected by the transition.
Of course, our job is not done. Commerce continues to work very hard to target our resources on the populations and parts of the country that need our assistance the most.
From our involvement in the test market to date, what is coming into sharper focus as I stand before you today is two points. First, it is critical that over-the-air consumers act early, to prepare themselves well in advance of the transition date, so they can avoid any rush that might occur at the end, and to give them time to troubleshoot any issues that might arise. And, second, getting this message out is all of our responsibility. I can’t say enough about the historic private-public partnership that we are leading, in partnership with the FCC and our industry partners. When governments, industry and nonprofit groups coordinate closely, as is the case in Wilmington, the whole truly does become greater than the sum of its parts.
Thank you all very much.