Senate tries second DTV delay bill: Broadcasters would decide on switch

Jan 30, 2009
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Having been rebuked by uncooperative Republicans in the House of Representatives earlier this week, with the first attempt at the DTV switchover delay bill rejected, the US Senate is back with a second attempt to postpone the shut-off of analog television.  The resubmitted bill, which has already been passed by the Senate, is generally identical to the original version, but manages to pass the buck to the television broadcasters themselves.

In fact, the chief difference between the first and second bills is that the delay is now being made voluntary, rather than mandatory.  If passed, broadcasters would be able to decide for themselves whether to cease analog transmissions on February 17th, or hold off on that until the Senate's original June 12th replacement date.

If the amended bill passes, it's win-win for the government.  They get to say that they tried everything within their power to delay the switchover and help the estimated 6.5m Americans without DTV viewing capabilities, and shift all the blame onto any broadcaster who chooses to stick to the February 17th date.  It remains to be seen whether the Republicans that rejected the first bill - and who reportedly would like to see more investment in the DTV convertor box subsidy scheme, rather than a delay - will approve this new attempt.


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