Effort to Delay DTV Switch Moves Ahead Despite House Vote

Jan 28, 2009  •  Post A Comment

Hours after the House failure to delay the digital TV transition, the outlines of a plan for a new House vote next week started emerging.
The first step: A new vote in the U.S. Senate on a slightly revised DTV bill.
Where do you stand on delaying the DTV switch? Make your voice heard in TVWeek’s online poll. Click here to take the survey.

The Senate on Monday unanimously, without debate, approved legislation moving the analog switch-off date to June 12 from Feb. 17.
The House made some technical amendments and today unsuccessfully tried to suspend its rules to immediately pass that bill, but on a 258-to-168 vote failed to get the two-thirds majority needed.
The failure was more of a problem than usual for Democrats because a House Republican Conference starting tomorrow has the House out of session for the rest of this week. Democrats can put the bill back on the House calendar without requiring a two-thirds vote, but not until next week.
When the House does vote, the technical amendments mean the Senate still needs to approve the changes, potentially further delaying passage.
Tonight Senate Commerce Committee Chairman Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., decided to short-circuit one of the extra steps.
The Senate will consider as a new bill the House’s amended version, allowing the House to come back next week and its vote to be on sending a delay of the DTV date to President Barack Obama.
The outline emerged as House Energy & Commerce Committee chairman Henry Waxman, D-Calif., promised to work with the Obama administration on a variety of alternatives to delay the transition.
He also chastised Republicans, saying, “I am very disappointed the House Republicans blocked the DTV extension today. Their vote has wasted valuable time and will cause needless confusion for consumers.
“A clear majority in Congress supports postponing the transition and providing assistance to the millions of households that are unprepared. I am working with the Obama administration and congressional leadership to explore all available options,” he added.
Republicans have opposed the DTV date shift as unnecessary and offered an alternative that would instead fix the problem with government coupons for converter boxes. Money for converter-box coupons has temporarily run out, leaving requests for 2.6 million coupons on a waiting list.
The request to delay the national changeover comes as a number of the nation’s 1,800 stations are quietly making the switch to digital. The Federal Communications Commission said tonight that 133 TV stations have already switched to digital-only signals, with another 67 set to switch before Feb. 17 and 93 to switch at midnight Feb. 17, whatever happens with the delay legislation.


  1. The delay is just another major TAX on broadcasters, industry and emergency services waiting for the switch for the spectrum to open.
    Nothing is going to change in four months. Those same holdouts will still be waiting to the last second to do anything about it and will still scream and cry about their “Victimhood”.

  2. Henry Waxman? You couldn’t find a better knucklehead to quote? Hey Waxman, you idiot, the DELAY will cause confusion and waste time, not doing it now! God, why do you keep sending these insufferable pinheads, and why oh why do we keep electing them???

  3. What about the confusion for the millions who did prepare and now will have a few days to find out that the transition is not happening? Typical Congress/govt action – lets screw those millions who do the right thing to “protect” the few who do not.

  4. In reply to “Thom”, exactly how are those who ARE prepared for the digital transition losing out with a delay? Stations already broadcasting in digital will continue doing so, whether or not Feb. 17 is the switch date. If you get digital now, you’ll still get digital on Feb. 18. The ONLY difference will be that analog viewers will get those extra months of service from stations that opt to continue analog broadcasts after Feb. 18. Yes, some stations will move to new channels for digital broadcasts on Feb. 17 — including some who will move back to their original channels used for analog — so this may affect reception a bit. But by and large, what’s the problem for those who are DTV-ready? Are there significant numbers of stations who haven’t (or won’t) fire up their digital broadcasts by Feb. 17?

  5. Full power stations that started late enough that they didn’t get a digital companion channel have to “flash cut” on the transition date. This requires scheduling work crews and often factory technicians to do the work, and now confusion about what to do and when to do it. Full power stations that were goven digital companion channels are already brodcasting in both modes, and continuing with analog involves the expense of operating the extra transmitter, ie $20,000.00 a month for electricity, $10,000.00 a month for tower space rent, etc., and and possibly defaulting on a contract to transfer the extra transmitter to another station. Feb. 17 was the worst possible time for stations with transmitters on mountian tops in the West because of site access roads closed due to fifteen foot deep show, and untenable site winter working conditions. It should have been scheduled for summertime in the first place.

  6. i think you shoud add 24-7 chanells on cable exspecialy pbs kids sprout and noggin my kids would love that and alot of people would stay with cable if you did those and other chanells 24-7 please please do this im beggindg you i dont have enough money for dtv but i would sure like it
    thanks a parent?

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