House Unlikely to Vote Today on DTV Delay

Jan 27, 2009  •  Post A Comment

It looks like the House tonight will debate delaying the digital TV transition to June 12, but no vote will take place until sometime tomorrow.

House action today on other bills is pushing back the start of the DTV debate, according to a spokeswoman for House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md.
The Senate last night without debate unanimously approved delaying the DTV transition from Feb. 17 to June 12. House Energy & Commerce Committee chairman Henry Waxman, D-Calif., had hoped to have a vote today on the delay and quickly get the legislation to President Barack Obama.
Some key House Republicans have opposed delaying the DTV transition date, instead suggesting Congress just fix problems with the government converter-box coupon program. There is a waiting list of 2.6 million for the coupons, good for $40 off converter boxes, and those requests can’t be fulfilled until the coupons already issued expire.
Today some Republicans urged House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., to turn down Rep. Waxman’s request to move quickly on the Senate bill.
U.S. Rep. Joe Barton, R-Texas, ranking Republican on Rep. Waxman’s committee, and U.S. Rep. Cliff Stearns, R-Fla., ranking Republican on the committee’s telecom panel, in a letter to Rep. Pelosi suggested the request for quick action amounts to “panic” and the merits for the legislation “are none.”
“This delay is not necessary,” they wrote. “Delaying the DTV transition deadline will confuse consumers without clearing the waiting list [for converter box coupons], jeopardize public safety and wireless broadband spectrum [and] cost broadcasters and industry a fortune in additional preparations.”
Their letter also questions the inclusion of $650 million in the Obama stimulus plan for additional coupons, saying there are other ways to “clear the coupon backlog without busting the budget or delaying the transition.”


  1. I find it difficult to understand how anyone could find themselves unable to make the transition to digital television.This legislation was passed in 2005.We have had a widely publicized media campaign { at considerable expense,I’m sure } for the past year,FREE coupons for the asking,and still a portion of our citizens need more time? unacceptable.I’m willing to guess these same individuals have cell phones,i pods,or DVR’S for THEIR convenience,But now wish the nation to wait while they play catch up.
    Can’t get with program in three years?Learn to read about a book.

  2. Tell it like it is,Mike!

  3. Actually, the DTV transition started way back in 1997, and the original target date for shutting down analog NTSC was midnight, January 1, 2007.
    In 2005, Congress – concerned that Americans weren’t ready for the shutdown of analog TV service – moved the analog shut-down date back to February 17, 2009, a delay of over 3 1/2 years. (Like Yogi Berra used to say, “it’s deja vu, all over again!”)
    Now, we’re still not ready? Congress is like the parent warning a child to hurry up and get ready or else, saying “I’m going to count to 3…one…two…two and a half…two and three-quarters…” (A great way to teach young children about fractions, by the way, as I got my dad up to 2 and 63/64ths once before “or else” kicked in)
    Sorry to say, but there’s been ample time for the transition. There will always be procrastinators out there. Why punish the 94% of households who are ready for 6% who aren’t?
    Pull the plug, and move on…

  4. I don’t disagree that folks had a lot of warning about this change.
    However, the converter boxes took forever to get to market, and the coupon program was poorly handled (and arguably has made things worse).
    Until recently digital TV’s were all very pricey items, and though we’d been hearing about these boxes saving consumer dollars for years, they were not available until just last year.
    Still plenty of time – some might argue. And I’d say they were right, except that the coupon system muddied up the works. The boxes weren’t and aren’t that expensive, but people waited to get their coupons — not always a smooth process for everyone.
    What has no doubt held up some consumers is the desire and expectation to get their government “hand-out” (now delayed even further).
    Some in Congress are simply trying to cover their own butts. When stations who must turn off analog in February do so (as they have everything in place, and can’t just stop the process), they’ll take the heat from the unprepared consumers, and Congress can say, “we didn’t do it!”
    The truth is, the government and government agencies screwed this up every step of the way – and don’t know when to back off, evidently.

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