updated 11:20 pm EST, Mon January 26, 2009
DTV Switch Delayed June 12
The US Senate tonight said it had cleared a bill to move the digital TV transition from its original February 17th date to June 12th. The tentative delay follows concerns by senators and the new Obama administration that there wasn't enough time for the new presidency to manage the process and for more end viewers to be ready for the switch, which cuts off analog, over-the-air TV broadcasts in favor of digital and full HD equivalents.
The decision also lets those who requested now-expired $40 coupons for digital set-top converters to get new coupons and thus make it easier for them to afford hardware that will let older TVs view digital shows. About 20 million Americans depend on analog broadcasts exclusively and either can't readily afford digital equipment or live in areas where digital towers don't yet reach, forcing them to either sign up for cable or satellite or else to drop TV altogether.
Cellular carriers like AT&T and Verizon had originally objected to the delay as it prevents them from starting up 700MHz 4G data networks as early as possible. Verizon has since backed down, saying that a short-enough delay is acceptable.