Washington-House Energy and Commerce Committee chairman Henry Waxman (D-Calif.)
has scheduled a vote next Wednesday on legislation to postpone the digital TV
transition until Friday, June 12, 2009.
The 115-day delay, requested by the incoming Obama administration, is needed
because too many people are not prepared for the Feb. 17 national cutoff of
analog TV signals, Waxman said in a Jan. 15 memo to all committee members.
"Unless the transition date is delayed, millions of Americans may see
their televisions 'go dark' on February 18," Waxman said
Senate Commerce Committee chairman Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.) announced Thursday
he is sponsoring a bill to put off the transition also until June 12.
Waxman's bill would make changes to the Commerce Department's $1.34 billion
digital-to-analog converter box coupon program, which has a waiting
list for about 2 million coupons that can't be released all at
once because of restrictions imposed a federal budget law called the Antideficiency
Under current law, the $40 coupons expire after 90 days. Waxman would extend
the expiration date of outstanding or newly issued coupons to Sept. 15.
Consumers who let old coupons expire could apply for new ones, something NTIA
doesn't allow today.
The bill would also require NTIA to use first-class mail. It may deliver
coupons electronically at its discretion.
Under Waxman's bill, TV stations could transition before June 12
with permission from the Federal Communications Commission.