updated 01:00 pm EST, Thu January 15, 2009
FCC OKs emerg. analog
The Federal Communications Commission has approved using over-the-air analog TV for critical broadcasts, if only on a temporary basis, Reuters reports. After the general transition to digital, people without digital converter boxes will still be able to see a notice in English and Spanish, directing them to a phone number with more information. Additionally, emergency information such as weather alerts will remain available over analog for 30 days after the transition date.
While the switchover is still scheduled for February 17th, Democrats in Congress are said to be pushing for a delay, with the fear that many people are not yet prepared. The government's converter box coupon program ran out of funding last week, leaving over two million people on a waiting list. A delay is also backed by incoming president Barack Obama, but opposed by Republicans, who say a delay would simply add to doubt and confusion. Phone carriers AT&T and Verizon have a particular interest in a quick transition, as they have together bought some $16 billion in spectrum licenses that cannot be used while analog TV fills airwaves.