Postponing the Digital Switch
If you’ve been watching the $200 million dollars worth of commercials the government has been putting out about preparing for the switch from analogue to digital television, you know that that switch deadline is scheduled for February 17, 2009. Lawmakers picked this date almost ten years ago to give everyone time to prepare.
However, on Monday, the Senate passed the DTV Delay Act which will delay the mandatory switch to June 12, 2009. The delay comes in light of the current economic situations, President Obama asked that the transition be postponed due to problems funding the $40 coupons that will be given to consumers who will need the digital TV converter box. The FCC is pleased saying that it welcomes more time time to put “boots on the ground” to aide in the transition. The Act passed unanimously in the Senate but failed to get the necessary 2/3 in the House this afternoon. So far, there’s no news on whether a new vote will be taken.
What it Means for Businesses and Consumers
Under the Act, stations will have the option to switch now or wait until June (with FCC approval). The additional time could turn out to be very costly for broadcasters who must pay an additional $10,000 per month to maintain and power analog transmitters. Or, the additional time could be just what stations need to install back up antennas and to finish warning audiences of the change. The delayed (and staggered) switch is probably going to be pretty confusing for consumers. The FCC recently opened a call center to help customers struggling with the delay.