DTV transition back on schedule

Earlier this week we thought the bill to delay the digital TV transition was going to pass, and we’d all be twiddling our thumbs waiting for the 4 month extended period to go by. But yesterday the bill failed to pass the House. Now Feb. 17 is back on the calendar.

Senate members unanimously voted to pass the bill called the “DTV Delay Act.” But the bill failed to receive a two-thirds majority in the House, even with a vote of 258 to 168. The bill could be brought up again, but nothing has been announced yet. If it does, it will be a much lengthier process.

Why the bill in the first place? The Nielsen Co. says an estimated 6.5 Americans are not ready for the switch. The concern is that as much as 5.7 percent of the population could see their televisions go black on transition day.

By extending the delay, it would have given more time for some of the issued but unused digital converter coupons to expire, allowing the Commerce Department to issue more. There is already a waiting list for the next round of coupons.

But the majority of Republicans voiced their opinion about the delay. Members said the delay would confuse Americans and further tie-up much needed bandwidth. A bill introduced by ranking Republican members authorizes an additional 250 million to distribute the coupons while keeping the Feb. 17 deadline.


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