Digital TV Transition Date Moved To June 12th

Like it or not, the deed has been done. The digital TV transition in America has officially been put on hold until June 12, 2009, but sadly, things still aren't cut and dry. After the new date was proposed, then rejected, then finally pushed through, a provision was included that would allow broadcast stations to still switch off their analog signal in favor of a digital one on the originally planned cutover date of February 17, 2009.

As it stands, the four major over-the-air networks -- FOX, ABC, NBC and CBS -- have announced their intentions to hold off on killing analog signals until the new June date. By doing so, they will hopefully help to avoid a completely confusing order of events which would see some stations going all-digital later this month and others waiting until a few months later. We told you this stuff was confusing, now didn't we?

The delay is supposedly being enacted in order to allow some 5.8 million Americans to get ready for an event that has been planned for three years now. Earlier in 2009, the pool of funds dedicated to providing $40 vouchers that could be applied towards the purchase of a DTV converter box ran dry, though quite a few million dollars in the latest "stimulus package" should enable the coupon program to continue on and begin fulfilling the 3.7 million backordered requests. Of course, this delay means that taxpayers will be forking out even more to ensure that their neighbors can tune into future episodes of Wheel of Fortune on their circa-1990 television, but who says a few extra months will really make the procrastinators spring to action?

Even if those who waited too long to snag a converter box do decide to get their act together and head out to select a unit, we're hearing that stores may not have enough to satisfy demand. How so? Intelligent supply chain managers at firms that manufactured these digital-to-analog converters began to slow or stop production last month as they expected demand to peek in February and fall off sharply in the months after. Now that Americans have another four months to buy one, many outfits are scrambling to restart lines and get shipments flowing once more. The Consumer Electronics Association has estimated that only three to six million boxes remain at retailers, and if the actual figure is closer to three million, you can see just how problematic this could become.