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Thursday, December 13, 2007

GAO Urges the FCC to Develop a Comprehensive DTV Transition Plan

The Federal Communications Commission (“Commission”) has suffered yet another embarrassing moment in its highly criticized digital television (“DTV”) transition planning. On December 11, the General Accountability Office released a report, expanding upon points made in prior Congressional testimony which faulted the Commission for not having a fully developed plan in place, with a little over a year until the hard date of the transition is met. Specifically, the GAO requested that the plan include: (1) detailed goals, milestones, and time frames that can be used to gauge performance and progress, identify gaps, and determine areas for improvement; (2) strategies for collaboration between public and private sector stakeholders to agree on roles and responsibilities; (3) a description of reporting requirements to track stakeholder efforts against planned goals; and (4) strategies for managing and mitigating risks to avoid potential problems and target federal resources.” All this, of course, takes valuable Commission time and resources, both of which are running thin given the time constraints that the Commission is now operating under.

While Commissioner Copps emphatically stated that “[i]t continues to astound [him] that we do not have a comprehensive DTV transition plan,” and that “[t]his effort is far too important to be left to chance or patchwork decisions by individual companies,” it remains to be seen whether the Commission will act expeditiously to implements a workable solution.

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