House rejects DTV delay, keeps Feb. switchover

Even after gaining support from the Senate and the Obama administration, efforts to delay the digital-television transition failed in the U.S. House of Representatives on Wednesday.

The national transition to digital television remains on track for a scheduled date of February 17, after the U.S. House of Representatives on Wednesday rejected a proposal to delay the switchover.

The House vote of 258 to 168 failed to meet the two-thirds threshold required to pass the measure under the rules the Democratic leadership put in place for Wednesday's debate. The vote comes just two days after the Senate unanimously approved pushing back the transition to June 12. President Obama's advisers have also advocated delaying the transition.

Republicans opposed the delay, saying pushing back the date would create confusion for consumers and burden television stations that would have to continue broadcasting both analog and digital signals.

Proponents of the delay have warned that millions of consumers will be left without television service if the transition is not postponed.

Nielsen reports that more than 6.5 million U.S. households are still not prepared for the transition. Moreover, millions of consumers are still waiting for coupons for digital converter boxes from the National Telecommunications and Information Administration, which ran through the $1.3 billion allocated for the coupons. A Senate panel on Tuesday approved an additional $650 million for the coupon program as part of its so-called "stimulus" package.

John Rockefeller, the Democratic chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee, said in a statement after the vote that he was "deeply disappointed" and claimed that the Bush administration "grossly mismanaged" the program.

 

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