Obama Wants to Delay Analog TV Shutdown to June 12

Illustration for article titled Obama Wants to Delay Analog TV Shutdown to June 12

More on the proposed delay of the digital TV switchover: Obama's transition team co-chair sent a letter to Congress supporting WV Sen. Jay Rockefeller's proposal to push the transition to June 12. This is dumb.

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Transition co-chair John Podesta writes to Congress: "We respectively reiterate that only legislation that includes a delay of limited and specific duration will provide Congress and the new Administration a realistic opportunity to resuscitate and modify the coupon program."

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Besides all of the vested corporate interests in delaying the shutdown (or not), changing the date that has finally been pounded into the heads of many people (even my mom knows about this thing, at this point) will just create even more confusion.

The digital TV switchover should proceed next month, but with the "nightlight" program the FCC approved that'll leave a warning message up for about a month and immediate, fresh funding for the coupon program, so we can get on with this thing. [WSJ]

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DISCUSSION

As someone who works for a television station, I cannot begin to express how bad of an idea it is to extend the cut off date. While some of my colleagues may disagree, a delay promises nothing but more bad news.

First of all we, as tv stations, have been running tens of thousands of spots (depending on how many channels one broadcasts) saying the date is February 17th. We have to submit forms to the FCC to say we have been running the required spots. Seeing that many spots and then changing the date will lead to great confusion because a lot of people are only following what they have been told and any change in that will surely confuse them.

Secondly, yes the coupon program is out of money. But a lot of the 90 day limits on coupons are expiring each and every day upwards of 250,000 which in turns gets issued to those the waiting list which is between 1.5 and 2 million people. (Btw if you have cards and don't use them, you will not be reissued new ones, you're SOL). So people will get their coupons just not as quickly as before.

Third, I think it's something 7% of people are still not prepared for the analog shut off. Turn that around and that's 93% that are ready. No matter what there are going to be people who just are not ready. It's a fact of life but 100% readiness cannot no should not be expected.

Fourth, and this isn't as big of a deal. There are companies like Verizon who have won auctions for parts of the spectrum and they should be allowed to access what they have paid for as soon as possible.

And lastly, this just needs to happen. This analog shut off has been delayed multiple times already. It's time to put an end to this and move on. Deal with the complaints and help those who are still left as they come. For stations that aren't ready, they have been able to file for extensions and should have done so already. What should have happened as a welcome and highly anticipated change has become no better than the mud we have dragged it through. It's time.