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DTV Transition Still In Limbo

Kim Hart

Here we go again.

The House will have another chance to pass a bill to delay the television transition next week. Yes, the same bill the House defeated Wednesday.

Here's why:

On Monday, the Senate first passed a bill to postpone the switch from Feb. 17 to June 12.

But on Wednesday, House Republicans blocked the bill from getting the two-thirds majority needed to pass under the rules applied to the legislation, even though the majority of lawmakers voted in favor of the delay. The rules, which allow little debate and no amendments, are used to speed up the process when legislation is expected to pass easily.

Senate leaders and Democratic members of the House made it clear how disappointed they were that the legislation did not pass. So, Thursday night the Senate passed the same bill that had failed in the house by unanimous consent. That allows the bill to go back to the House floor for a vote, this time under regular rules. That means it will only need a simple majority to pass, instead of a full two-thirds majority.

But under regular rules, House Republicans will be free to add amendments to the bill. In that case, even if the House passes it, the bill will have to go back for Senate approval. That would add even more time to the process. In addition, the Senate may not like the amendments added by the House, and the bill could die.

And the clock is ticking. There are only 18 days left until the digital transition is scheduled to happen.

By Kim Hart  |  January 30, 2009; 5:30 PM ET  | Category:  Kim Hart
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Please email us to report offensive comments.

99% of Americans are already DTV ready!

PBS is running a 30 minute special “every” morning across the USA, showing seniors how to do this, if they are not ready. The longest it takes one man is ONE minute to plug in the converter box! Very educational for those having no clue.

The delay will only put a few hundred thousand more of our citizens out of work immediately.

It is ashamed that the administration is making a major error based solely on 100% defective information.

We should all pray for our country if they get something this simple so wrong.

Posted by: hou_person | February 1, 2009 4:54 AM

Yeah, this whole mess has been delayed several times already. Let's simply do it, fix the small percent of people that need help and move the hell on with more important stuff. Like passing on crippling debt to future generations with this ill-advised "sim-your-ass" bill. Some people may lose TV for a few is not big freaking deal. Others may lose a station or two, due to the signal strength not being enough or not having a decent antenna, but that is life. Deal with it.

Posted by: moonwatcher2001 | February 3, 2009 9:55 AM

We can't wait until 100 percent of the people are ready - they never will be. That's like saying "Oh we let hospitals have new technology everyone can afford to pay for it." In anything the goverment does, there are always winners and losers. That is the law of unforeseen consequences. That's why a bunch of liberals became the neoconservatives after the 1960's....they saw that their policies caused untold grief due to the unforeseen consequences. Of couse Repulicans most of the time have no clue either. People, this isn't the end of the world. It's just TV. And if we delay, that pushes back the rollout of any new services dependent on the available bandwidth. Enough already. Let's move into the 21st century and be done with it.

Posted by: moonwatcher2001 | February 3, 2009 10:07 AM

As noted in a recent Nielsen poll ( it was estimated that nearly 6 million households in the US are not ready for the digital TV transition this month.

I think that the transition should go ahead as planned on Feb. 17, but lawmakers should allow for a delay – a grace period – to the complete transition. Such a "roll over period" (perhaps an additional 90 to 150 days) would allow for the processing and distribution of digital STB coupons and migration of those who have yet to make the change. During this period, both digital and older analog signals would available -- a simulcast service, as available in other countries -- and those consumers who have not made the transition to digital should see not only the channel displayed but a rolling warning notice that their ability to view the television station they're watching will end unless they immediately migrate to digital equipment.

Given that many public support agencies (police, fire, and emergency services) have yet to fully move to the newly opened frequencies for public safety communications, I'd expect little impact to public services.

Posted by: msweatt | February 3, 2009 12:41 PM

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