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Senate puts DTV Conversion Delay Bill Back In the Race

The “DTV conversion delay” bill, which was defeated in the House of Representatives on Wednesday, may be on its way to revival.  A similar bill was passed with unanimous support in the Senate on Thursday.  The bill was a bi-partisan proposal by Senators Jay Rockefeller, democrat, and Kay Bailey Hutchison, republican.  It not only delays the date that broadcasters will be required to change from analog to digital signal from Feb 17 to June 12, but it proposes that the stations will be allowed to change over sooner if they choose to do so.   Now that the bill has passed in the Senate, it may be brought up for a vote in the House, for which it would only require a majority vote to be passed.  In the previous vote, under other certain rules, a two-thirds majority vote was required.  The vote was 268-158, meaning that if the voters repeat their decisions, the bill will pass in the House unanimously.

The Nielsen Co. has been referenced heavily in this continuing battle for TV signal conversion.  Although the company has stated that over 6 million households are unprepared for the change, 94% of the country’s citizens are ready to go!  Isn’t there a better solution for helping the remaining estimated 6%, rather than holding up something that has been in the works for 10 years now?

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February 4, 2009 Posted by | Digital Conversion | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

House Votes Against Delaying Digital Conversion

house-of-representativesHouse Votes Against Delaying Digital Conversion When brought up for vote in the House of Representatives, the bill proposing a delay of the digital broadcast conversion from February 17 to June 12, was defeated. It did not receive a two-thirds majority vote, which was needed to pass the bill. The vote was 258 in favor (236-Dem, 22-Rep) and 168 against (155-Rep, 13-Dem). The bill could be brought up again for regular floor vote, in which case, it would only require a majority vote to be passed. The “mostly” democratic support of the bill to delay the conversion is based on the fact that they believe that a large number of households (6.5 million) are unprepared for the conversion, a statistic which is confirmed by the Nielsen Co. These citizens are particularly among the poor, rural, and low-income representation of Americans, who either live in areas that receive major stations through analog signal or can’t afford to purchase the equipment necessary to receive signal after the conversion. The government has made coupons available for $40 toward the purchase of a digital conversion box; however there is currently a wait list of 3.2 million requests. The National Telecommunications & Information Administration is only sending out new coupons as older, unredeemed coupons reach the 90-day expiration. Joe Barton, republican congressman of Texas, is pushing for legislation that will aid in this problem without postponing the conversion. Most republicans feel there is no need to delay the conversion. Those against the bill believe that it would incur heavy costs for public safety agencies and wireless companies who are waiting to use the spectrum that will become free after the conversion. Television stations, as well, would be required to pay more to operate both systems for several more months, an expense that is most likely not built into this year’s budget. In addition, Jonathan Collegio, of the National Association of Broadcasters, has voiced that the Nielsen Co.’s statistic on number of unprepared households does not take in to account those who have purchased a converter box and not installed it; those who have requested, but not received coupons; or those who subscribe to cable or satellite television for their home theater system. The Obama administration has not made a comment in reference to the outcome of the vote.

February 4, 2009 Posted by | Digital Conversion | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment