Blog Post

Senate OKs DTV Delay, Still Needs Money for Coupons

istock_000005015948xsmallThe Senate late Thursday night agreed on a bill that would delay the transition from broadcasting analog to digital television signals by four months. It will vote on that bill next week. Meanwhile, the House this week approved the $6 billion in broadband funding offered under President Obama’s economic stimulus package, which includes another $650 million to fund the coupons aimed at offsetting the costs of buying digital converter boxes. The Senate is expected to circulate its own drafts of the stimulus bill in the next few days as the House debates the DTV delay.

Obama has supported the delay because the program offering $40 coupons to offset the costs of a converter box ran out of money and stopped issuing coupons. This leaves about 6.5 million consumers who will see their televisions go dark if the delay goes through (we are assuming all of them are going to pick up coupons). That makes the DTV coupon funding important, because until that money is allocated, the main reason driving the DTV delay cannot be addressed.

So in order for the delay to mean something, the coupon program needs funding in time to help consumers ready themselves for the new June 12 DTV transition deadline.  As part of the DTV bill, the Senate version gives station owners the option to switch to digital if they no longer want to broadcast analog signals. However, it’s unclear if those stations want to risk alienating their audience — which may still be using analog televisions — by going dark too early.

7 Responses to “Senate OKs DTV Delay, Still Needs Money for Coupons”

  1. I agree, everyone who has tv has known about this. They have had PLENTY of time to go out and get a converter box. I actually know someone who pays for a cell phone, high speed internet, an internet roll playing game fee or whatever that is, but whines that she cannot afford a converter box and now will have to go without tv. What is she to do? HA, what a crock. Flip the damm switch and get it over with.

  2. Anonymous

    Ridiculous the February 17th 2009 deadline has been known for over 5 YEARS people, plenty of time to buy converter boxes/plan on upgrading your TV if you invested 10/mo for 5 years thats $600 enough to buy 10 Converter boxes at full price, or 1 New Digital ready TV…. For those who Can’t Squeeze $10/mo over the last 5 years, should seriously reconsider their priorities (Watching TV, paying for the Electricity for it…….) let’s see at 120Watts for a typical 20-27″ old TV vs 40 watts for a new LCD digital TV savings 80 watts * 8 hours a day * 30 days a month * 10 cents per kilowatt hour… (some places it’s 12 cents+) $19.20 approx savings per month The new TV will pay for itself in 2.5 years… math is a bit rough but I think you get the idea… if one spends this much money on electricty, how do they afford to watch TV each month???
    But not a converter or new TV????

    Get with the Program!!!!!!!

    So since the FCC (Government) sold the spectrum already does that mean they should pay the new owners a fee for leasing it back for the next several months??? hmmmmmm

    BTW some people actually believe it’s “Illegal” to hookup the converter before the Feb 17th date…… believe it or not!

  3. While I don’t favor a delay and have said repeatedly the entire transition has been a cluster on multiple levels, local affiliates being permitted to flip the switch prior to to June 12th might make things even more chaotic. I’m sure maintaining simulcasts incurs an expense of one form or another. And some stations will drop NTSC broadcasts. But others won’t. So the folks who have no clue what’s coming will now be even more confused when some stations come in and others don’t.

    Back to the proposals, I think it’s likely we’ll see a movement to recycle voucher quicker than those 90 days – the program really isn’t out of money, as many proclaim, but rather the money is spoken for with cards that may never be redeemed. Heck, I was sent two cards. One went to Best Buy (to get a converter for my mom’s kitchen television), and the other went into the trash. And this latest proposal allows folks to reapply for coupons if there’s have expired.