The U.S. House of Representatives approved legislation on Wednesday to delay the analog cutoff TV date to June 12, 2009.
The measure, which was identical to a bill passed unanimously by the Senate for a second time, will now be sent to President Obama, who is expected to sign it into law. House Republicans, who had voted down the delay last week under a rules suspension that required a two-thirds majority vote, failed to win a procedural change that would have opened the bill to amendments.
Prior to the vote discussion, Waxman and House Telecommunications & Internet Chairman Rick Boucher (D-Va.) updated figures on the number of households in each congressional district that are on a waiting list for DTV-to-analog converter-box coupons.
Democrats pointed to Nielsen estimates for January, showing some 6.5 million people, who receive television only via terrestrial analog signals, were still not prepared for the transition date with 13 days remaining until the previously established cutoff date.
Boucher argued that even if the funds for converter-box coupons were in hand today, there wouldn’t be sufficient time to get impacted people ready to receive digital broadcasts. Boucher and Waxman also indicated in a letter to House members prior to the vote reaching the floor that another 200,000 households had been added to the coupon waiting list, raising the number to 1.8 million overall.
In addition to changing the analog cutoff date, the delay in the all-digital TV broadcasting measure allows broadcasters to end their analog transmissions on the previous Feb. 17 deadline. The bill also allows TV households to reapply for expired coupons using $650 million currently in the economic stimulus package to fund the new coupons. Some of the money will also be used for additional education and outreach.
The measure also contributes more resources to DTV education and outreach efforts, including improving and expanding call centers that will handle consumer questions and problems during the transition process.
Acting FCC Chairman Michael J. Copps said:
"The additional four months provided by the law affords urgently-needed time for a more phased transition, including a consumer-friendly converter box coupon program, stepped-up consumer outreach and support--particularly for vulnerable populations -- and dealing with coverage, antenna and reception issues that went too long unaddressed. We've got a lot of work to do, but thanks to great leadership in the Senate and House of Representatives, we now have an opportunity to do it better."
CAW and DTV :
- For households who have purchased digital TVs and want to dispose of their old TV sets, there are proper recycling facilities available here. In California, it is illegal to discard TVs in the garbage.