Update: U. S. Senate Advances Digital TV Delay


The U. S. Senate voted Monday to delay the transition to digital television to prevent up to 21 million households around the country from losing their television signals.

U. S. Senator Jay Rockefeller (D-WV).
Photo from Sen. Rockerfeller

The Senate voted to delay the DTV transition until June 12. Many African American, low-income and rural families as well as senior citizens are at risk of being cut off from using their televisions.

US Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-West Virginia) stated over the weekend that the delay will give federal agencies time to assist people who are not ready for the switch to all-digital TV.

“We can do the DTV transition right or we can do it wrong,” Rockefeller stated. “Doing it right would mean that as many as 21 million households across this country do not lose access to news, information and emergency alerts….And doing it right means that no one across this land wakes up on February 18 to find that their television set has gone dark.”

Rockefeller stated that the previous administration of President George W. Bush “mismanaged” the DTV transition, leaving behind a waiting list of over 2 million requests for coupons that cut $40 off the price of digital converter boxes. People with old, analog TV sets need the converter boxes to keep getting television signals. People with digital-ready TV sets or who use cable or satellite services do not need the converter boxes.

President Obama called for the delay Jan. 8, shortly before he took office.

On Jan. 22, the Nielsen Company reported that more than 6.5 million U.S. households – or 5.7 percent of all homes – are not ready for the digital TV transition. Nearly one out of ten African American and Latino households were not ready for the DTV transition. In Chicago, Nielsen found that 82 percent of households were ready, 12.82 percent were partially ready, and 5.18 percent were totally not ready for the DTV transition. Nielsen did find that 1.3 million more homes were ready since the company’s last survey at the end of December.

Read previous articles from Residents’ Journal about the DTV transition here: Fall 2008 Issue of Residents’ Journal.

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