Los Angeles, CA – Although Congress has approved an extension of the transition to digital television until June 12 and President Barack Obama is expected to sign the legislation into law, there are some television stations around the nation that have opted to stick with the upcoming Feb. 17 change-over date.
According to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), the DTV Delay Act extends the final transition date until June but allows full-power television stations the flexibility of changing on Feb. 17. In order to do this, they must notify the FCC by Feb. 9 of their intentions.
One of the key reasons the extension was approved was that many American households are not ready for the conversion. According to the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), Congress set aside 33.5 million $40 TV Converter Box Coupons to help households with analog television sets–not connected to cable, satellite or other pay TV service–to buy a converter. But as of now only 22.6 million have been redeemed, and the program already exhausted its $1.34 billion budget. Additionally, there are 3.7 million requests on a waiting list for the coupon, and that represents about two million households. The backlog is due to the lack of funds to provide the discount coupons.
The President’s proposed economic stimulus package contains $650 million to fund additional DTV coupons.
The DTV Delay Act also allows the NTIA to issue to a requesting household, one replacement coupon for each coupon that was issued and expired without being redeemed. However, this will not take effect until the enactment of additional budget authority.
In Los Angeles, most major television stations–channels 2, 4, 5, 7, 9 and 11 have said they will delay their transition until June.