The switch to digital TV will most likely be pushed out to June 12 from the previous Feb. 17 date, after the Senate passed a bill today, Reuters reports. The delay was initiated by President Barack Obama, who worried that consumers needed more time to get coupons that will offset the cost of a $40 converter box. The government ran out of coupons earlier this month, and about 2.5 million Americans are on a waiting list.
Broadcasters are now required to move from analog to digital signals in order to give public safety officials more spectrum, and to allow companies like AT&T (NYSE: T), Verizon Wireless (NYSE: VZ) and MediaFLO, which bought licenses in the last auction, to roll out new services. At least AT&T and Verizon Wireless had changed their position recently, saying that if the delay was short enough, they would support it. Others that may be affected by the delay include the Open Mobile Video Coalition, which has been trying to roll out digital mobile TV services. Most likely, they’ll be able to move forward because most broadcasters are already broadcasting on the digital signals, and the switch has more to do with turning off the analog network. While some Republicans in the House are opposed to a delay, the measure should pass in the House before the transition date, the WSJ reports.