Not to Delay

Well, it seems the DTV transition will not be delayed after all. The Senate voted on Monday to allow stations to shut down analog broadcasting at any time between February 17 and June 12, but the House of Representatives defeated that bill today.

Representatives Joe Barton (R-TX) and Cliff Stearns (R-FL) had implored House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) not to support the delay, apparently invoking 9/11 as a reason to complete the transition on the original schedule. According to some interpretations of the 9/11 Commission Report, if the TV spectrum had been available for emergency communications on that day, the lives of some rescuers might have been saved.

On the other hand, as I noted last week, the government has run out of money to fund the DTV-coupon program, leaving up to 2.5 million people on a waiting list, which is why many in Washington want to delay the transition. Clearly, the coupon program was mismanaged, especially by instituting expiration dates that left some 40 percent of coupons unredeemed.

Broadcasters are not keen on delaying—after all, they've been preparing for years. According to PBS chief Paula Kerger in her testimony before Congress yesterday, it would cost public stations something like $22 million to delay at this point.

So it seems that we're a go for launch on Feb. 17. Everyone please fasten your seatbelts and prepare for the DTV age!

If you have an audio/video question for me, please send it to scott.wilkinson@sorc.com.

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COMMENTS
The Flap's picture

It just goes to show, that even the small amount of control the government has creates more problems. The senate version already had a provision for broadcasters to decide to go ahead anyway. (Which effectively pulled the teeth from the bill) It didn't pass since the open market would dictate the switch anyway (cost vs. viewer loss). One note, an analyst pointed out that if these viewers were so strapped for cash to buy a convertor, who would think they could be influenced in a purchasing decision? That I think put the nail on the head, and with the voluntary nature meant no way.

Glenn's picture

Don't be so sure there won't be a delay. The House voted it down the other day, but that's not the end of it. At the Friday 1/30 White House press conference the spokesman said that they still expect that the House will approve legislation to delay DTV until Jun e 12. Stay tuned.

Eric's picture

Don't they have more important things to be worrying about? I mean, this is delaying the socialization of America. We know are freedoms are disappearing. Just make it quick. According to the president. Now is not the time for companies to make profits anyways.

Scott Wilkinson's picture

Eric, do you not think America is already socialist? What do you call Social Security and Medicare? Would you dismantle them? (Don't answer that until you're retired and need them.) On the other end of the spectrum, wealth is redistributed all the time, mostly in the upward direction. According to NPR, the 400 richest American families have an average annual income of $200 million, and Wall Street execs gave themselves $20 billion in bonuses at the end of 2008, money that must have come from the TARP bailout, which is to say we the taxpayers. Talk about redistribution of wealth! The Republicans were all hot to trot with the huge bailout of big financial institutions—clearly a socialist action—but when it comes to spending money for middle-class jobs and infrastructure, they're totally opposed on the grounds that it's "socialist." Isn't the inherent contradiction in these positions obvious?

David Vaughn's picture

Actually, both parties wanted a bailout of Wall Street (look at the voting in both the House and the Senate), but their were a number of people from both parties that thought it was a bad idea and didn't vote for it. We got in the housing mess by companies following the social agenda of the politicians of "everyone in America should own a home," so the mortgage companies listened to Congress and made it easier to get loans...much too easy. Rampant fraud, by brokers, banks, and prospective homeowners, caused the mess we are in now. Treasury Secretary Snow went to Congress in 2003 and warned Barney Frank and Christopher Dodd about the risk of meltdown from subprime mortgages and he was told by both of them "Freddie and Fannie are in wonderful shape, just look at the books." What they didn't realize (or maybe they did), the books were being cooked.

David Vaughn's picture

People want to say that capitalism caused this mess, but I disagree. It was a mix of capitalism and socialism that caused the mess. There are too many people in this country who don't know how to manage money with too much debt, the need and desire to drive the newest car, and they don't save enough money for a rainy day or retirement. While it's great there is Social Security and Medicare for the elderly, it won't be there in 20 years because the system is going bankrupt because of ineptitude by our politicians (in both parties). In America today we have two choices between the party's...the tax and spend Democrats or the no tax and spend Republicans. The differences between the party's are very small.

David Vaughn's picture

Oops...I meant to say both "party's" (not parties). :D Regardless, I hope we as citizens will do our part to keep things going and not rely upon an inefficient and ineffective government to bring us out of our malaise. God Bless America!

Scott Wilkinson's picture

Actually, I don't think capitalism is to blame

David Vaughn's picture

Scott, Greed was definitely to blame and deregulation was a part of that. But don't blame one party over the other. On one side of the deregulation blame-game are the Republicans, who wanted to open up opportunity. On the other side is the Democrats, who wanted to micro-manage the economy (ie mortgages) to allow "everyone to own a home," even those with dubious financial footing. Put the two together and we end up with the disaster we are in now. To make things worse, the legislators passed a "bailout" bill with little or no foresight to put restrictions on the money. Alas, we gave one man too much power (Paulson), and bailed out financial firms that didn't deserve it, and guess what? They abused the system (fancy that). IMO, we should have let financial Darwinism taken over and let the strong firms survive. All we are doing is delaying the pain and will prolong this crisis. Read your history books...we are repeating the mistakes of the 1930's.

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