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Posted by on Jan 8, 2009 in Media, Politics | 0 comments

Will the Digital Transition be Delayed?

If Obama’s transition team gets its way, Feb. 17 may no longer be a day-of-worry for those who still get their TV via antenna.

Obama Transition Team Co-Chair John Podesta’s letter to the relevant committee chairs and ranking members (Sens. Rockefeller and Hutchison, Reps. Waxman and Barton) — requesting a delay in the scheduled transition from analog to digital broadcasting — strikes me as the ultimate CYA move.

Here’s why: I work for a company that has a stake in the transition. More than a year ago, one of my bosses and I were in DC chatting with one of the Democratic staffers on one of the Commerce committees. I don’t recall if it was House or Senate, but I do recall what the staffer expressly told us: Democratic leadership was in lock-step agreement that there would be no delay. The clearly implied reason was that the Democrats expected one of their own to be president in ’09, and they wanted him/her to be in position to blame any transition problems on the prior Republican majority, including the aforementioned Rep. Barton, who was House Commerce Chair at the time the law in question was passed.

Now, I don’t know if that staffer was accurately reflecting the Democratic leadership’s common mind or not, but if she was, I doubt said leadership expected their president to be Obama or anyone else who clearly appreciates the limits of the blame game. Hence my belief that Podesta’s letter is a CYA gesture, signaling that if Obama assigns blame, it’s going to be on the more immediate target, the Democratic Congress now in charge, for failing to act on the incoming administration’s plea for more time.

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