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DTV Delay Vote Held Up in House

Jan 21, 2009  •  Post A Comment

The possibility that Congress may not delay the digital TV transition, despite a request from President Barack Obama, was raised today by the sudden cancellation of a House committee’s expected vote on a bill changing the DTV switch date.
The cancellation doesn’t necessarily mean that House Democrats don’t support the DTV switch delay. There were hints that the House temporarily stepped aside as senators work on their side of the Capitol to forge an agreement to delay the digital transition.
Senate aides say negotiations are continuing toward an accord that would likely include switching the changeover date from Feb. 17 to June 12. It also allows the government to immediately resume sending out $40 coupons for converter boxes that some viewers will need. Money for the coupons has run out.
If agreement is reached, Congressional action changing switchover date could be swift. Last week Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., tried to get the Senate to unanimously delay the digital TV changeover, but some Republicans objected and Mr. Reid withdrew the request. Mr. Reid said he was going to try to work with Republicans and was hopeful he could offer a similar proposal for a vote this week.
The surprise prospect that there would be no delay and that Feb. 17 transition might go forward surfaced at the House Energy & Commerce Committee today. On short notice, the committee cancelled plans to move to the House floor legislation extending the deadline. A committee official said there was no indication when or if another committee vote to move the legislation would take place.
While a DTV bill could yet go directly to the House floor, time is growing short for Congress to act quickly enough to enact legislation in sufficient time to publicize any switchover delay.
Committee chairman Henry Waxman, D-Calif., blamed the last-minute cancellation on the Senate’s unwillingness so far to move on its own legislation delaying the switchover.
“I have postponed the committee consideration the DTV markup to give the committee more time to assess the implications of the Senate action,” he said in a statement.
Failure of Congress to act on DTV also opens the possibility that the issue could become President Obama’s first major congressional policy defeat. The Obama transition team had requested a delay, suggesting the coupon program needs to be fixed and more time is needed to deal with problems from the Bush administration’s failure to adequately publicize and plan for the switchover.
U.S. Rep. John M. Shimkus, D-Ill., however, immediately speculated that negotiations were likely underway. Mr. Shimkus and some other House Republicans, including the ranking GOP member of Mr. Waxman’s committee, Rep. Joe Barton, R-Texas, oppose any delay.
(Editor: Baumann)

23 Comments

  1. 26 days until the deadline, and they’re delaying a decision on the delay? There’s not much time, and aside from the millions who might see static on Feb 17th, some of us need to know whether we’ll have to reprogram our DTV transition countdown clock.

  2. have they forgot about the people in rural areas that are required to purchase new antennas in order to recieve the digital signal dispite the fact they already have the converter box. for my family do it your self cost $300 professional instilation $800. I feel for those who cannot afford the boxes without the coupons, there are many of us who sure cannot afford $300 + ,we have been overlooked by bothsides!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  3. I do feel for those who will have a large cost associated with the switch; however a delay of a few months is not going to make a difference to those people. The information has been out there – at a huge cost to broadcasters. Coupons have been available, which I don’t think should have been anyhow. Let’s just get this over with and handle the mess after – what’s the worst that can happen? Someone missed their soaps??? They still have radio for emergency information. As much as I love the industry, man it is TV for goodness sakes! Doesn’t our government have better things to spend their time on?

  4. joanna, a few months may make a big difference, tax returns comming soon will bring xtra money, my family is close to having what we need .
    but another factor, I live in frozen snow and ice covered WI, don’t what my husband fallin off a roof either having to install a whole new deep fring antenna system(we didn’t need that for analog). wrong time a year to have set a date for this.
    unfortunatly it’s not a good thing for either side, someone gonna get stuck with high cost of this, if we dely it will cost, if we don’t it will cost in another way. compromise is the answer, cut the cost of the dely by changing june 12th to maybe april of may. this way those who know that it going to be dark by feb 18th and cannot afford to do anything about , it will give them a little more time.and it will cut the cost of the delay too.
    i guess no one expected the economy to go into the toilet. that happening made it impossible for us to afford the cost in time to switch.

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