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House Poised to Vote on DTV Delay Bill

Kim Hart

Tomorrow the House will have another chance to delay the transition to digital television by four months.

Last week the Senate first passed a bill to postpone the switch from Feb. 17 to June 12. Two days later, 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.

But on Thursday the Senate passed the same bill that had failed in the House, which sends the legislation back to the House floor for a second vote, this time under regular rules. That means it will only need a simple majority to pass.

Capitol Hill Democrats say a delay is needed to give consumers more time to prepare and make sure everyone who needs a coupon will get one for a converter box. Republicans have argued that delaying the switch will cost millions for broadcasters who have already made expensive preparations for the switch and just cause more confusion for TV viewers.

Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) asked the House Rules Committee to grant a "closed rule" for the bill, which would limit debate to one hour and would not allow amendments to be added. However, top Republicans could try to send the bill back to committee, again drawing out the process.

By Kim Hart  |  February 3, 2009; 8:12 PM ET  | Category:  Kim Hart
Previous: New Face at NTIA to Oversee DTV Switch | Next: Google Investor Sits on Obama's Econ Advisory Board

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It's too late! The train has left the station!

Posted by: rabbit3 | February 4, 2009 7:47 AM

I really hope this bill passes. I would hate to lose my television signal right in the middle of the season. Yes, I have a converter box. No, it doesn't work well.

Posted by: rukidding4 | February 4, 2009 8:48 AM

Does this bill (or any current law) force the broadcasters to continue their analog broadcasts? There are a few situations where one broadcaster's permanent digital frequency is another broadcaster's current analog frequency, but most broadcasters will keep either their current analog or current digital frequency after the switch. Thus, could they not switch any time they get sick of broadcasting two signals? I mean there's nobody forcing a station to stay on the air, right?

Oh, and for the record, February was a dumb time to do this to begin with, but with all the preparations by stations already made to do it, we probably shouldn't postpone it.

Posted by: bill3 | February 4, 2009 9:22 AM

We will have the same whiners crying the same song on June 12. What next,a switchover in October?

This isn't a surprise to anyone who watches TV. Now we will get the same barrage of PSAs, but now saying we really, really, really mean it this time.

There are companies who have paid the government billions for the old frequencies. Their switchover is February 18. 4G service will be delayed by a number wireless providers. Progress is being halted.

Posted by: corkyboyd1 | February 4, 2009 10:16 AM

Geez, I didn't get a coupon to defray the cost of switching from a hand-crank Victrola to an electric turntable, then to a CD player... Nor to buy a FM radio... Nor to buy a computer... Nor to buy a frost free refrige... Etc., etc.!

Quit whining people.

Posted by: Rich393 | February 4, 2009 10:22 AM

Many people have discovered late in the game that the highly-advertised box does not work without a huge, new, outside antenna. In effect, the advertising has been misleading, simply saying "adjust" your antenna. I put up a huge outdoor antenna last summer, with so-so results. Many people are going to need time to do that, so a delay is called for because of misleading governmental advertising.

Posted by: george11 | February 4, 2009 11:19 AM

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