With the nationwide shut-off of analog broadcast television service just weeks away, House Telecommunications Subcommittee Chairman Ed Markey (D-MA) asked the FCC and the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) to provide details on where both agencies stand financially in their efforts to coordinate the national switch-over to digital television (DTV) services. In letters delivered last Friday to FCC Chairman Kevin Martin and to acting NTIA Director Meredith Baker, Markey voiced concern that funds set aside for DTV call center operations conducted by the FCC and for the NTIA-managed DTV converter box program will run out before the needs of consumers are fully addressed. Writing to Baker, Markey questioned if Baker had worries about the converter box program hitting its funding ceiling and if NTIA had any plans to delay filling converter box coupon orders. (A spokesman for NTIA indicated that 370,000 coupons were ordered by the public on December 17 alone and that another 290,000 coupons were ordered the following day.) Citing estimates that put the total number of DTV converter boxes available in inventory, production and shipping through June 2009 at 11.2 million, Markey also asked Baker: “given NTIA’s estimates for a total demand of at least 33.5 million boxes, what is the shortfall and when do you estimate boxes will be in inadequate supply on a local, regional and national basis?” Meanwhile, in his letter to Martin, Markey sought details on the amount of money the agency has set aside for the operation of call centers, which are expected to handle upwards of two million calls per day in the first week following the February 17, 2009 DTV transition deadline. While quizzing Martin on the FCC’s projected expenditures for the training of call center agents and on the number of calls the agency expects to receive, Markey also asked if “pledged private sector efforts will be adequate to handle any shortfall in the Commission’s call center efforts.”