Congress votes to delay analog TV shutdown

Posted February 4, 2009

— Congress has delayed the analog TV shutdown by four months.

The House on Wednesday voted in favor of a bill that gives consumers until June 12 to prepare for the transition from analog to digital television broadcasts.

The bill now heads to President Obama for his signature. A spokesman has said he will sign it.

In a 258-168 vote last week, House Republicans defeated the proposal to delay the analog TV cutoff, which is currently mandated to be Feb. 17. Even though a majority voted for the bill, it happened under a special fast-track procedure that requires two-thirds support to pass.

The Senate unanimously passed the bill earlier last week.

The Obama administration and many Democrats on Capitol Hill argue that a delay is needed to ensure that millions of consumers, particularly poor and elderly Americans, do not lose TV reception when broadcasters shut off their analog transmitters.

Republican lawmakers have raised concerns that a delay would confuse consumers, burden wireless companies and public safety agencies waiting for the slices of the airwaves that will be vacated and cost TV stations millions of dollars to keep broadcasting both analog and digital signals for four more months.

The Obama administration called for the transition to be postponed after the Commerce Department hit a $1.34 billion funding limit for the $40 coupons that subsidize digital TV converter boxes for consumers. The boxes translate digital signals back into analog ones for older TVs to process.

The National Telecommunications and Information Administration, the arm of the Commerce Department administering the program, is now sending out new coupons only as older, unredeemed ones reach a 90-day expiration date and the money allotted for them goes back into the account.


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  • ohmygosh Feb 5, 2009

    I'll bet some BC stations are also happy to have the delay.
    A considerable number of them are not ready for the switch.
    Imagine doing antenna work in MN in Feb?

    Also the transition is going to be messy for another reason. Many stations are going to be initially broadcasting on antennas not yet at full height and not at their full power. Their audiences on day 1 will be maybe 50-75% of analog. That will cause congress to hear about it.

    Congress created this mess in legislating DTV, let them live with it and the complaints.

  • Beachnut Feb 5, 2009

    There are certainly people (and i use that term loosely) out there that will take no action whatsoever until their TVs go dark. Delaying the switch another 4 months won't change this. Get on with it!

  • soundwave Feb 4, 2009

    And these are the incompetents that folks want to turn their banks, healthcare, lives... over to. They can't even get this right. And it's just TV!!

  • colliedave Feb 4, 2009

    The Obama administration and many Democrats on Capitol Hill argue that a delay is needed to ensure that millions of consumers, particularly poor and elderly Americans, do not lose TV reception when broadcasters shut off their analog transmitters.

    Since when does TV access become a right? Why not include a provision in the stimulus bill an insert to give everyone free satelite TV?

  • catfisherman Feb 4, 2009

    Thanks for that link, Geobo! TaxMan, your HOA is violation of federal law.
    That link again is . The rule covers satellite dish placement, as well as standard TV antennas (and other wireless receiving devices).
    Speaking of the DTV delay, I am not prepared to pay my taxes on April 15th. Maybe we can push that back so I can be ready on August 21st.

  • NCPictures Feb 4, 2009

    sgebeaux You just dont get it. Some stations cannot switch off their analog, because the digital channel they are going to is occupied by another stations analog channel. So some stations are running low power right now just to make it through this time. Also most people will be watching TV on their cell phones through MobiTV which is broadcast on the TV stations sub carriers. They will not be watching the stations through the 700 MHz service.

    So why did we have the 2/3 vote? Guess it doesnt mean anything until the administration gets their way.

    Either way this is a STUPID move that will waste money, time, create confusion, and lay off people from jobs.

  • HopingForABetterWorld Feb 4, 2009

    I could care less when this happens, but I am sick of catering to lazy and clueless people. You HAD to know this was coming, or you don't watch the tv that isn't ready for conversion.

  • endless Feb 4, 2009

    The funny thing is that some of the bandwidth freed up - is going to bused so you can watch TV on your phone!!

    This was not an example of the democrats forcing anything - the first vote was set up to require 2/3 and this vote required 50%. Procedural matter.

  • endless Feb 4, 2009

    By the way, does anyone remember the government paying for the retiring of 8 track tapes? The end of cassette decks? The 45 record? Why the heck are we paying for THIS technology switch? --RKBA

    Because NONE of those things RETIRED or were forced out of existence by the government. I still use cassette tapes.

    The government required and mandated this switch over and profited from the sale. so using some of that money for the individual (who owned this property auctioned) is only reasonable.

  • endless Feb 4, 2009

    RKBA - IF the broadcaster does not want to pay for the extra analog - THEN they can just go ahead and switch over. Or did you just skip over that part of the bill and the story??