House Rejects DTV Transition Delay

In a move that surprised industry observers, the House of Representatives today voted not to delay the DTV transition for four months.

The House vote was 258 in favor and 168 opposed, falling short of the two-thirds majority to pass the legislation. The House could still put the delay up for another vote but with less than three weeks left before the Feb. 17 analog shutoff, time is running short.

Broadcasters were resigned to a delay; the networks and the National Association of Broadcasters voiced support for the delay, which would have pushed the analog shutoff to June 12. On Monday, the Senate approved legislation sponsored by Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va, to delay the transition.

In recent weeks, Rockefeller and other Democratic legislators joined with the Obama administration in favoring a delay, citing concerns that the public was not ready for the Feb. 17 deadline. They criticized the NTIA for botching the converter coupon program, which ran out of funds late last month. Currently there are more than 2 million requests on a waiting list.

Republicans have opposed a delay on the grounds that it would affect a small percentage of the public and have instead supported moves to fix the coupon program.