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1 Senate passes bill to delay digital TV switch on Mon Jan 26, 2009 10:18 pm


Senate passes bill to delay digital TV switch
Transition date moved back four months from Feb. 17 to June 12

Hawaii's Digital TV Switch Thursday On Track
$650 million sought for digital TV transition
updated 17 minutes ago
WASHINGTON - People who have not gotten their TV sets ready for the changeover to digital signals could earn a four-month reprieve under a bill making its way through Congress.

The Senate voted Monday to delay until June 12 the deadline for the changeover from analog to digital television broadcasting. People still getting their pictures through old-fashioned antennas otherwise would face a Feb. 17 cutoff.

Comparable legislation is being readied in the House, and the Obama administration has called for a delay amid mounting concerns that too many Americans who rely on over-the-air broadcast signals won't be ready.

It's estimated that more than 6.5 million U.S. households — mostly poor, elderly and rural — are still not prepared for the upcoming transition.

The bill would also allow consumers with expired $40 coupons, available from the government to offset the cost of a converter box, to request new coupons. The Commerce Department ran out of coupons earlier this month, and about 2.5 million Americans are on a waiting list for them. Converter boxes generally cost between $50 and $60.

In a letter to key lawmakers earlier this month, Obama transition team co-chair John Podesta said the digital switch must be delayed largely because the government had run out of money to help consumers with the changeover.

“With coupons unavailable, support and education insufficient, and the most vulnerable Americans exposed, I urge you to consider a change to the legislatively mandated analog cutoff date,” Podesta wrote in a letter to top Democrats and Republicans on the Senate and House Commerce committees.

In 2005, Congress required that broadcasters switch from analog to digital broadcasts, which are more efficient, to free up valuable chunks of wireless spectrum. The newly available room in the airwaves can be used for commercial wireless services and for emergency-response networks.

Not everyone is happy about the proposed four-month reprieve, however. Paula Kerger, president and CEO of the Public Broadcasting System, said Monday that the delay would cost public broadcasters an estimated $22 million.

The stations will face increased power charges to maintain the over-the-air broadcast signals, Kerger said. Many have leases for signals transmitters that were set to expire on the switchover date.

Obama urges delay in digital TV transition
TV transition delay would cost PBS $22 million
Red Tape: 'Other' digital TV conversion might cost you

Earlier this month, the National Association of Broadcasters declined to say whether it supports or opposes the four-month delay. A spokesperson for the organization said that it believes the problems with the coupon problem can be remedied without the delay.

The Consumer Electronics Association opposes the delay.

© 2009

rosco 357

i dont understand why ppl have not got the boxes, lazy or forgetfull, i got 2 months ago, one for here if the cable goes out, i can watch the tv local stations like a storm takes out the cable as it does sometimes, my only problem is when the power goes out, like a snow storm, or ice storm, i use a small black and white i run a wire down stairs to the truck or car,in the basement and plug it into the cig lighter to power the smalll tv, but now thats gone i have to have power to run the box, and by the way, the box is great for local tv, some local stations have more channels, like one has just one for weather, that will not show on the cable, i got one for the lake , but the signal is to weak ,, i will have to do some antenna work,, thats all i use up there is an antenna, i just have to fix my outside antenna,


I had forgot about it and the two cards I have are expired which has happened to a great many, they are suppost to correct this. I only need a box if during a hurricane we lose cable (which always happens) so I can get New Orleans channels when we use the generators. The other I wil send with hubby to the hunting club should his dish there go out.

rosco 357

my boxes are magnavox, but walmart now has other brands, and they are selling them fast now, i was surprised how they worked with a good remolt, yep we are about in the same boat, cable goes out sometimes, wish they had a battery powered one, like the little tvs are,


my tv ,phone, and computer is all with the phone company so I don't think I will have to get a box, I will have to check`


you shouldn't unless you have a power outage such as an ice storm, taking down your phone line and taking out your tv . Your only way of getting tv would be with the new box and a generator for power.the old rabbit ears and antenas won't work for a signal


speaking of ice storm,snow,sleet we are having some of that now~ they say it is suppose to be bad, and inch of ice is not good,,Hope we don't lose power~

rosco 357

i put one of my boxes on the portable tv in one of my daughters former bedrooms, , it only has rabbit ears u can remove , it has a hole for them, i connected the box, let it scan for channels, and the picture is much better than it was without the box, but i had heard from other ppl the picture was better thru the box, compaird to rabbit ears without the box, its supper clear with the box, but its only for backup like i said, i dont even watch that tv,


gypsy wrote:speaking of ice storm,snow,sleet we are having some of that now~ they say it is suppose to be bad, and inch of ice is not good,,Hope we don't lose power~

I just talked to family in Southern Missouri, it is real bad there and going to be worse, Jim Cantore on the weather channel was just saying the ice can add as much as 1000 lbs of weight between utility poles, thus everything coming crashing down, they predict the damage will cause power outages for weeks from N.Texas to the east coast.
I am getting slammed with calls about work so maybe action will pick up.


I know for your kind of work this weather good~ but I hope we don't have power outage.
I remember in the late 70's we had power outage lasted for almost two weeks, thank God we had gas but the thermostat,,and switch couldn't work because no electricity
this was when kerosene heaters became popular,kids were out of school a total of 30 days because roads caved in and buses couldn't run~


I need to get one of those boxes too but I don't know how much good it will do me. I have a little battery operated TV with rabbit ears I use for power outages, which here in Florida happens quite frequently . The only problem I see with the box is that it needs to plug into the wall for electricity, at least that's my understanding, it doesn't take batteries. That's no good, becuase the biggest problem we have is power outages. What good is the box if you can't run it. If they make a battery powered one then I will be in business again with that tv.


My house has a back up generator wired into the house, so it is a matter of flipping breakers, I also have a small generator, we bought in Florida the year of Charlie. Very inexpensive but worth its weight in gold. Hubby bought it to run the motels AC in our room, should the power go.


House Votes Against Delaying Switch to Digital TV
Bill's Defeat Means Nation Will Transition From Analog Sets Next Month

By Kim Hart
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, January 28, 2009; 4:56 PM

The House today defeated a bill, 258-168, to delay the nation's switch to all-digital television by four months. The action comes less than two days after the Senate unanimously passed a plan to postpone the Feb. 17 switch to June 12.

The defeat was a setback for the Obama administration and Hill Democrats, who are concerned that too many Americans are not ready to get digital programming. House Republicans have argued that postponing the date would cause confusion for consumers and cost millions for broadcasters who have planned to make the transition.

Congress three years ago mandated that all television broadcasters shut off analog signals and air only digital programming. As a result, viewers who rely on older analog TV sets and antennas to receive broadcasts will need to upgrade to a digital TV or install a converter box to continue watching television.

The Nielsen Co. estimates more than 6.5 million U.S. households that rely on over-the-air broadcast signals, or 5.7 percent of the population, are not prepared for the transition and could see their TV sets go dark next month.

The Obama administration had urged Congress to postpone the transition to give consumers more time to get ready. In a letter to Capitol Hill, Obama aides cited consumer confusion and budget shortfalls as two key reasons for a delay.

This month the Commerce Department hit a $1.34 billion funding limit for $40 coupons that help consumers pay for digital TV converter boxes, which cost between $50 and $80. Consumers who need coupons are now being placed on a waiting list until already-issued coupons reach their 90-day expiration date, making money available for additional coupons. About 3 million consumers are on the waiting list.

The Senate bill to delay the transition did not specify how the costs of a delay would be covered, which contributed to opposition in the House. Other lawmakers could still come forward with new bills to delay the transition or find other alternatives. But that would require Senate action and, with less than three weeks before the transition, time is running out.

The bill was considered in the House today under suspension of the rules, a procedure usually used only for noncontroversial items. As a result, the bill saw only a short debate and no amendments were allowed. It needed a two-thirds majority to pass.

House Democratic leaders have the option of bringing the same bill back to the floor under regular order, meaning that it would need only a simple majority to pass. Republicans would have the option of trying to amend the measure.

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