Friday, January 16, 2009

Congress Votes on the End of TV on January 21st

Democratic committee chairmen in both houses of Congress are proposing to delay until June 12 the date for major TV stations to stop sending traditional analog signals. The change is now set for Feb. 17 at midnight.

The House Energy and Commerce Committee is expected to vote Jan. 21 on whether to delay the changeover until June 12, the date proposed by Representative Henry Waxman, the California Democrat who heads the committee, aides said today. The bill by Rockefeller, who’s the next chairman of the Commerce Committee, was introduced yesterday and offers the same date.

“Congress is likely to pass some sort of delay, given lawmaker concerns about likely disruptions to some TV viewers and a possible backlash,” said Rebecca Arbogast and David Kaut, analysts at Stifel Nicolaus & Co. in Washington, in a note to investors today.

Obama’s team called on Jan. 8 for postponing the date, citing a funding shortfall a program that subsidizes digital equipment. The program offers $40 coupons toward the cost of converter boxes, which sell for $40 to $80 at retail outlets.

Coupons are mailed out using third-class bulk mail and take four to six weeks to arrive, Podesta said in his letter. He reminded leaders of the Jan. 8 request and said that since then “the situation has only gotten worse.”

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