The long wait to switch to digital TV broadcasts will now be a bit longer after the U.S. House of Representatives voted today to postpone the switch to June 12, according to an Associated Press report.
For the majority of the nation already ready for digital TV broadcasts, the delay still impacts us all. The pending law will tap into government funds to provide more discounts on digital converter boxes for analog TV viewers. Also, this means four more months of commercials, stories and coverage of the digital TV transition.
According to AP, the House voted 264-158 to delay. Last week, the House rejected a similar bill because it failed to get a two-thirds majority as a special fast-track vote. However, today’s action required a simple majority. The Senate approved the delay early last week.
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.
However, the pending law will allow TV stations that are prepared to switch to make the switch anyway.
At Tustin-based Trinity Broadcast Network, which operates three-dozen TV stations nationwide, the religious TV network will likely switch to digital in phases, said Paul Crouch Jr., TBN’s chief of staff. The cost of maintaining analog broadcasts costs the network $40,000 a month per station in energy bills.
“We’ll probably go market by market and just shut off analog as we see fit,” he said. “In other markets, like Columbus, Ohio, that has 30 percent over-the-air viewership because there are a lot of homes in rural areas.”
TBN will probably keep its analog broadcasts in Ohio and Dallas through June, and continue to broadcast educational information about the switch even though it’s been showing educational spots for two years.
“If you’re not ready on February 18, I’m not sure June 12 is going to make all that much difference,” he said.
The National Association of Broadcasters, the TV industry group that said earlier this month that the nation is ready, now backs the delay. In a statement, it welcomed the new deadline and pledged its support to continue educating consumers who haven’t converted or are confused. It also supports fixing the government-funded coupon program, which ran out of money earlier this month.
“America’s broadcasters, which have spent the past decade preparing for this historic transition, are ready to make a successful switch,” said David Rehr, NAB President and CEO.
NAB, which hosts the DTVAnswers.com web site, is already planning new television spots to promote the June 12 deadline.
From the web:
Nearly a Fifth of Stations Will Make Digital TV Switch Anyway (U.S. News & World Report)
More at The Gadgetress’ “Guide to Digital TV transition.” Recent headlines: