Citing funding shortfalls with the DTV converter box coupon program, a top official with President-Elect Obama’s transition team wrote to members of Congress yesterday to urge postponement of next month’s nationwide digital television (DTV) deadline. The letter, addressed to the chairmen and ranking members of the Senate Commerce and House Energy and Commerce Committees, comes on the heels of a similar communication to lawmakers from the Consumers Union (CU) that also cites the DTV coupon program that ran out money last Sunday. Declaring, “we have discovered major difficulties in the preparation for the February 17 conversion from analog to digital broadcasting,” John Podesta, the co-chairman of the Obama transition team, described government funding for the DTV coupon program and consumer education and support efforts as “woefully inadequate.” Podesta added that, even if Congress waives provisions of the Anti-Deficiency Act to allow NTIA to begin fulfilling coupon orders immediately, “coupon demand appears to be headed to a level that will exceed that authorized by Congress.” As such, Podesta declared that, “with coupons unavailable, support and education insufficient, and the most vulnerable Americans exposed, I urge you to consider a change to the legislatively-mandated analog cut-off date.” While the CU termed postponement of the DTV transition deadline as “the right move . . . considering the federal treasury is going to book nearly $20 billion in revenue” from last year’s auction of reclaimed analog spectrum, reaction to Podesta’s letter was mixed among lawmakers, FCC members, and industry officials. Voicing support for a delay, Senate Commerce Committee Chairman Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) said, “I’ve long believed that there is too much at stake for consumers and for public safety to simply cross our fingers and hope for the best.” Ranking House Energy and Commerce Committee Member Joe Barton (R-TX), however, argued that “reintroducing uncertainty to the [DTV] switch will make things worse instead of better.” That sentiment was echoed by FCC Chairman Kevin Martin, who voiced concern that moving the DTV transition date would cause consumer confusion. As CTIA warned that a delay “could postpone investment and deployment of broadband wireless services” that use auctioned analog TV spectrum, the National Association of Broadcasters proclaimed: “broadcasters nationwide are committed to being ready by February 17 and strongly support a solution that would enable the government to continue making converter box coupons available to consumers.”