House approves DTV delay until June

By a vote of 264 to 158, the U.S. House of Representatives voted Wednesday to delay the DTV transition deadline until June 12.

The House action effectively ends the efforts by those, mostly Republicans, to maintain the original Feb. 17 DTV transition deadline. Last week, the Senate approved the delay, and President Barack Obama, who requested the delay in the weeks leading up to his inauguration, is expected to sign the bill into law.

Pressure from multiple sources mounted in the weeks preceding the vote. Concern from the Consumers Union about the preparedness of the nation’s over-the-air TV viewers, figures of The Nielsen Company showing more than 6.5 million remained unprepared as of January, and questions raised by multiple FCC commissioners about the agency’s ability to handle the crush of consumer inquiries after Feb. 17 all added weight to those arguing for a delay.

Perhaps the single biggest issue, however, was word from the Commerce Department’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration in January that it had reached the congressionally approved threshold of $1.34 billion for DTV converter box reimbursement coupons.