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House Votes Down DTV Delay
1/28/2009

The House of Representatives voted down a bill to delay the DTV transition deadline, The Associated Press reports. The bill to move the deadline from Feb. 17 to June 12 was expected to pass in the House today, but it didn’t have enough Republican support. Reps. Joe Barton (R-Texas) and Cliff Stearns (R-Fla.) had implored House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) to stick to the February deadline and hand over the transition spectrum to new owners and first responders. The two were said to invoke 9/11 as a reason to complete the transition. Interpretations of the 9/11 Report suggest that the use of TV spectrum for emergency communications would have saved the lives of several rescuers.

The Senate on Monday night passed a delay bill that would have allowed broadcasters to shut down analog signals between the current dates of Feb. 17 and the extension date of June 12. One the motivation for stretching it out is that the federal government ran out of money to help people prepare their TV sets. Its $1.5 billion converter-box coupon program ground to a halt Jan. 5. As many as 2.5 million people are on a waiting list for the $40 coupons.

The Obama Administration transition team urged lawmakers to delay the transition soon after the coupon money ran dry. Broadcasters themselves aren’t as keen on a delay, having planned for it for years. PBS chief Paula Kerger told Congress yesterday it would cost public stations upwards of $22 million to delay the transition.

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