UPDATED 1/28 2:00PM: Earlier today, House Republicans defeated the proposed delay of the DTV transition. It's still set for February 17.
Below is my original blog post, published on January 27.
ANOTHER delay. Yesterday, the US Senate voted unanimously to postpone the DTV transition from February 17 to June 12. The proposal, supported by President Barack Obama, could receive Congressional approval very soon.
On January 1, the Commerce Department announced that they'd run out of funding for government-subsidized vouchers toward the purchase of digital converter boxes. There are currently 2.6 million Americans on a waiting list, in case additional funding comes to fruition. The goal of the four month delay is to find the funds to make this happen.
According to a Nielsen report published last week, more than 6.5 million households are not prepared for the DTV transition. Senate Commerce Committee Chairman Jay Rockefeller, author of the bill to push back the deadline, stated "I firmly believe that our nation is not yet ready to make this transition at this time."
That "6.5 million households" sounds awfully large, but it makes up only 5.7% of American households. Even if the deadline is pushed back, and the voucher program is reinstated, will these households stop procrastinating and actually purchase converter boxes? Or will they simply have another four months to put it off?
Of course, broadcasters don't like the idea as they'll have to continue broadcasts in both analog & digital, which is more costly; in fact, some have already scheduled the dismantling of their analog broadcasting equipment. But Rockefeller managed to ease some of these concerns by allowing broadcast stations to make the switch from analog to digital signals sooner than the June deadline if they choose. Um, what?!? Won't most stations switch to digital-only immediately? If so, what's the point of moving the "transition" to June?
Nothing is final yet, but we should know the fine details if/when Congress approves it.
Good idea? Bad idea? Let us know what you think by posting your (non-political) comments below!