U.S. president-elect Barack Obama is pushing to delay the country's switch to digital television broadcasting from analog transmission because he believes too many consumers aren't ready for proposed Feb. 17 change. In a Thursday letter to key congressional lawmakers, John Podesta, the co-chair of Obama's transition team, wrote that the Commerce Department had run out of money to subsidize the purchase of new converters.
It is estimated that up to 20 million Americans will need to purchase converters, or new digital televisions. Federal officials have tried to ease the transition by providing $40 coupons that reduce the cost of many of the boxes available at retailers. However, the Commerce Department said earlier this week it exhausted its $1.34 billion budget for the converter subsidy and more than one million people remain on the waiting list for the coupons.
In the letter, Podesta wrote:
"With coupons unavailable, support and education insufficient and the most vulnerable Americans exposed, I urge you to consider a change to the legislatively mandated cut-off date."