The DTV Transition Is Going Through Its Own Transition
January 27, 2009 4:14 PM
With 21 days to go until the transition period is over for the conversion to digital broadcasting, it seems the transition to digital will go through a transition period of its own.
It looks as if the mandated transition date will be pushed back to June 12. It is not official yet, but a compromise was reached between Democrats and Republicans that will allow a vote to pass the bill sometime this week.
Republicans have introduced legislation that will continue to fund the digital converter-box coupon program, which has run out of money. As of last Wednesday, there was a waiting list of 2.6 million requests for the coupons.
Another concern for Republicans was the added cost to television station owners if the transition date were to be moved back. PBS has estimated it will cost public broadcasting stations $22 million in added utility costs, continued rental on transmitters and delays of tower crews if the date is pushed back.
A compromise has emerged, however, to allow stations that want to switch to digital broadcasting and turn off their analog transmitters to do so. I would expect the majority of broadcasters will choose to do this sooner rather than later, but we will have to wait and see how this plays out.
It looks like instead of a hard date to make the switch, it will occur over the next few months. June 12 is on a Friday, and to me it makes way more sense to do it over a weekend than in the middle of the week like the Feb. 17 date was. I never did understand why in the world it would happen on a Tuesday night.
But I think the point is moot anyway. The compromise bill, if it is passed, will allow television stations to make the move at any time up until June 12.