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Breaking News: House Passes Bill To Delay Digital Tv Switch

The House voted today 264-158 to delay the analog TV shutdown until June 12. This comes one week after the Senate voted to delay the switch (see blog entry below) originally scheduled for February 17.

The bill now goes to President Obama for his approval which he should sign-off on quickly. Given the economic situation the Obama administration believes the digital TV transition should be the last thing on legislators’ to-do lists.

Consumers who rely on traditional over-the-air broadcasts will need to upgrade to a pay TV service such as cable or satellite, use a TV with a digital tuner or buy a converter box for their older analog television sets.

Still be resolved is the funding needed for more coupons to help consumers offset the cost of converter boxes. That issue will likely be considered as part of the economic stimulus legislation.

This decision is not unexpected – atleast by me – as the signs of trouble were there: the coupon subsidy program was running out of money, waiting lists were growing, and not enough public education in general was being done about the transition, the coupon program or how to hook up the converter boxes, which some have found troublesome.

I began talking about this transition on my radio show for over a year. The buzz with my listeners did not pick up steam until late Fall 2008. Recent polls by Nielson Co. shows over 6.5 million households are not ready for the transition which apparently freaked out members of Congress.

My initial thoughts…

  • No matter when this switch takes place, 100% of the country will never be in ready
  • Just like people wait until April 14 to being their taxes, I believe people were procrastinating until the drop-dead date was upon them
  • The $40 coupon for converter boxes was a bad idea in the first place. The reason converter boxes retail for $40-$80 are because manufacturers knew there would be coupons offered. Had the government not issued coupons these boxes probably could have been priced around $15-$25.

Stay tuned (ha ha) for much more on this…

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