Using the Additional Time for the DTV Transition
Now that Congress has, for whatever reason, extended the DTV transition, FCC and NTIA will look like the SEC at this week's hearing if they don't take advantage of the time to try to improve things. The image at top is from FCC's website today - the date of the transition has not been changed yet. Shall we start a pool on when it will be changed? Feel to post your own guess to this blog below.
I have commented in the past on the "battling DTV websites" of NTIA and FCC: www.dtv.gov and www.dtv2009.gov . While NTIA is tasked by law to give out the famous coupons, the information they give on related issues is not always the same as FCC's. I am not saying whose is better - but why can't they agree to use the same information on the details?
I was looking recently at the foreign language information available on both websites. Here is a table of what's there along with Census data:
|Language||Total Speakers in US||Speakers Whose English Ability Rated "Not Well" or "Not at All"||DTV Information at FCC Site||DTV Information at NTIA Site|
|Somali data - http://paa2006.princeton.edu/download.aspx?submissionId=61036|
Both FCC and NTIA have traditional Chinese characters (PRC) and simplified characters (Taiwan)
The second column gives the total number of speakers of each language in the US and the third gives, more importantly, the number of speakers who can't speak English well. The data is based on the 2000 census and hence isn't good for recent refugees from Sudan and Somalia. It also only has English speaking data for the top 20 languages. I did not include one language on the NTIA site that I think is Laotian or Cambodian.
I suspect this data shows that if your congressman has influence, you are much more likely to get information in your language. Thus the 16,000 Yup'ik speakers get information from FCC, but not NTIA, while the 86,000 German speakers with bad English don't. NTIA also ignores Portuguese, Polish, Italian, Japanese, and French Creole which account for 517,000 people with poor English ability. If you want some clues as to why a language was chosen, check out the geographic distribution of each language and you can guess which congressman pressured which agency. For example did Ted Stevens ask for Yup'ik while no one spoke up for Armenian?
In the case of the Hmong, an interesting question is whether the older immigrants who don't speak English can read Hmong since it was only a spoken language until the late 20th century. Similarly, there are Navajos in rural areas who avoided compulsory education and don't speak English but it is not clear if they can read Navajo.
The new team at FCC inherited a real mess as they all realize. I hope they can make real progress soon. I also hope they remember to explain to the public what NCTA calls the "Second DTV Transition" this has a real potential to embarrass everyone involved unless the cable industry explains better what is happening.