President Signs DTV Delay Act

(Feb. 12, 2009) WASHINGTON: President Barack Obama signed the DTV Delay Act last yesterday, moving the end date of the digital television transition into June.

“During these challenging economic times, the needs of American consumers are a top priority of my administration. This law, which was crafted in a bipartisan way and passed overwhelmingly in the House and Senate, ensures that our citizens will have more time to prepare for the conversion,” Obama said in a statement. “Millions of Americans, including those in our most vulnerable communities, would have been left in the dark if the conversion had gone on as planned, and this solution is an important step forward as we work to get the nation ready for digital TV. My administration will continue to work with leaders in Congress, broadcasters, consumer groups and the telecommunications industry to improve the information and assistance available to our citizens in advance of June 12.”

Before Obama was confirmed as president, his transition team urged lawmakers to move the deadline over concern about public preparedness. The bill allows stations to shut down any time between now and June 12, as long as they meet FCC conditions. So far, 368 of the nation’s more than 1,800 full-power TV stations have been given permission to shut down on or before Feb. 17, the original deadline. Another 123 await possible approval, and the rest have committed to continuing analog broadcasts beyond Feb. 17.