After the Senate approved a delay for the Digital TV Transition in January, the House of Representatives blocked it in a vote of 258 to 168. Now, the House of Representatives is rehashing the issue and has voted to delay the switch to digital television after all. In case you were wondering, the initial House vote was in a special fast-track vote which required two-thirds support to pass. This time, the bill passed under a regular floor vote, which requires only a simple majority.
Today, the House voted 264-158 to postpone the shutdown of analog TV signals until June 12 in order to address concerns that too many Americans wouldn’t be ready. The original deadline of February 17 was set by Congress three years ago. Now, the bill will head to President Barack Obama for his signature.
The Obama administration and Democrats in Congress have fought for this delay claiming the previous administration mismanaged efforts to ensure all consumers were properly prepared for the switchover. The Nielsen Co. estimates more than 6.5 million households in the U.S. that rely on analog TV sets are still not ready for the transition, meaning they don’t own a new enough TV with a built-in ATSC (digital) tuner or they haven’t purchased a DTV converter box which would enable their older TV set to accept the new signal. People who subscribe to cable or satellite TV or have a newer TV that has a digital tuner will not be affected by the changeover.
The delay won’t come without costs. Not only is there likely to be some added confusion over the change, but broadcasters will also pay a price in rescheduling tear downs and other activities associated with the changeover. In addition, companies such as Qualcomm who were hoping to take advantage of the vacated analog spaces to expand their services will now have to wait to do so.