On February 4th, the House of Representatives voted overwhelmingly to delay the nation’s transition to digital television until June 12, 2009. The House joins the Senate, which already passed the bill, in pushing back the original transition date from February 17th. Based on his public statements on the matter, President Obama is expected to sign the measure. See Obama Team, Citing `Major Problems for Consumers', Calls for Delay in DTV Transition.
The vast majority of the television stations around the country are probably ready to shut down their analog signals and go exclusively digital by mid- February, but problems and confusion on the customer end have plagued the transition.
Congress authorized each household to receive up to two $40 coupons to help defray the cost of a converter box (if the household with an existing analog TV set chose not to subscribe to cable or satellite service), but the coupon program has run out of money. Also, each coupon expires after 90 days and thousands of issued coupons have never been used. These problems, combined with a significant portion of the population still confused over what they need to do to continue to watch television after the transition date, precipitated the delay. See Digital TV Converter Boxes: Order Your Coupons Today!
Reflecting these concerns, just last month, Congress passed a law to require broadcasters to keep transmitting a reminder to “go digital” on their analog signals for 30 days after the transition date. See Static! More Stumbles in DTV Transition May Leave Many New Yorkers Without Service.
The postponement will also cost each television station thousands of dollars each month to keep two signals going at once – analog and digital – for four months longer than anticipated.