Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Update: Digital TV transition delayed until July

CNN reports Obama has signed an order to delay the termination of analog tv signals until July, in order to help underprivileged viewers find more time to comply with the conversion requirements, so they will not lose their free access to basic television.

An estimated 6.5 million homes -- including many elderly, poor and disabled Americans -- would lose TV service after February 17 without the delay, supporters argued.


The Commerce Department ran out of money last month for its program to help people pay for converter boxes needed to make older TVs receive the new digital signals. There are 3.7 million homes on the waiting list for the $40 coupons, said Rep. Rick Boucher, a Virginia Democrat.

"It's clear that the only way to avoid a massive disruption affecting 5.7 percent of the TV viewing public is to delay the transition and provide the funding to assure that, when it occurs, it occurs smoothly," he said.

Federal Communication Commission acting Chairman Michael Copps said the delay gives the government "an opportunity to do it better."

"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," Copps said.

In other news, Republicans continue to provide some of the most unhelpful, dismissive analysis of any situation possible:
"If you don't know this date is coming up, you're probably not watching television," said Rep. Roy Blunt, a Missouri Republican. "And if you're not watching television, you probably won't know on February 18 whether it occurred or not."
Well that's a relief. Good thing there aren't any disabled, elderly, or impoverished people who might or might not know about the transition but haven't had the money/time/ability/knowledge to prepare for it...

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