updated 10:05 am EST, Fri January 30, 2009
Senate OKs TV delay bill
Just days after Congress rejected a bill that would delay the switch to digital over-the-air TV from analog, the US Senate on Thursday has passed a slightly revised bill to delay the transition. Like the original bill, the new one aims to move the switchover date into June, as there is concern from President Obama and his supporters that some 20 million poor, elderly citizens as well as those in rural households are not technically ready for the changeover.
Just as before, the new compromise bill needs to be passed by the House of Representatives, and it stands a better chance of passing this time, as it was modified by Senate Commerce Committee Chairman John Rockefeller, a West Virginia Democrat, and Texas Republican Kay Bailey Hutchison. If the new bill passes, the delay will be voluntary, allowing TV stations to make the switch as soon as the original mandated date of February 17th.
The switch from analog to digital signals is being done to give public safety officials a broader spectrum mainly for emergencies and to improve viewers' reception quality. It does require individuals to upgrade their TV sets to ones capable of receiving digital signals, or adding a set-top box to their existing analog TVs. Clearing the space also opens the route to 700MHz wireless Internet access.