**UPDATE, 12:35 p.m.**: AP is reporting that Senate Republicans have blocked the proposed bill to delay the the February 2009 digital transition to June. Democrats, however, say they will try again next week. This comes after President-elect Barack Obama once again urged Congress on Friday to delay the transition. Reason to block delay: It would cause too much confusion among consumers and would delay transferring those analog airwaves for emergency purposes.
With President-elect Obama urging a delay to the planned Feb. 17 transition to digital TV, the bureaucrats are making things happen.
Sen. Jay Rockefeller introduced his bill to delay the transition for four months until June 12, 2009.
“I firmly believe that our nation is not yet ready to make this transition,” Rockefeller said in a press release.
On the House of Representatives’ side, Rep. Henry Waxman from California introduced a similar bill to delay the DTV transition.
Besides postponing the deadline, a delay will reform the coupon giveaway. According to the senator, 2 million Americans are still waiting for their $40 coupon, good for discounts on digital converter boxes that are need to upgrade older analog TVs to the digital age. The $1.3 billion committed to the transition has been used up. A delay would give the new administration time to find more money to put into the coupon program.
(One note: Anyone can buy a digital converter box without a coupon. You just won’t get the discount. Prices start around $40.)
In Orange County and Los Angeles, 9.5 percent of TV-watching households aren’t prepared, according to a December report from The Nielsen Company, the TV research company. Approximately 535,000 households, or 9.5 percent, of folks in the region do not have a digital television, converter box or cable or satellite service.
On Thursday, the U.S. Federal Communications Commission began implementing the “Short-term Analog Flash and Emergency Readiness Act,” or SAFER, which permits analog TV service for 30 days after the Feb. 17 deadline.
During the 30 days, TV networks can voluntarily use the analog airwaves to air public safety information and DTV transition tips on how to restore TV service. The FCC Order has 826 stations that are eligible to continue broadcasting during those 30 days. Stations not on the list are encouraged to work with other stations in the community to support the extension. Eligible stations in Orange County include:
More on the digital TV transition at gadgetress.freedomblogging.com/dtv/