DTV delay makes it through the House


As expected, the new DTV deadline day of 6/12/09 made it through the House of Representatives, with Subcommittee on Communications, Technology Committee and the Internet chair Rick Boucher (D-VA) riding shotgun, after the need for a two-thirds supermajority was lifted. The final vote in favor was 264-158. It is a duplicate of the version pushed through the Senate by unanimous consent last week, meaning that the next stop for the bill is the Oval Office, where, if we remember our Jailhouse Rock lessons correctly, it can be transformed from into to a law with the simple application of an autograph from Barack Obama. Acquisition of that autograph is considered to be a mortal lock.

The NAB was quick to praise the passage of the bill, and equally quick to promise further resources toward the achieving a successful results on the new deadline day. NAB will keep the outreach campaign going with a full slate of television spots and other items.

“The legislation passed by Congress provides more time for Americans to prepare for the DTV transition and will allow more time for the government to fix the coupon program,” said NAB President and CEO David Rehr. “We appreciate members of Congress for their leadership and swift action in ensuring viewers get continued access to free, over-the-air television “America’s broadcasters, which have spent the past decade preparing for this historic transition, are ready to make a successful switch.”

RBR/TVBR observation: Among the points made by Joe Barton (R-TX) and others was that one of the key problems, the converter box coupon bottleneck, could be solved with language alone. The argument had merit – if it had been done near the first of the year when the problem presented itself. In fact, we were shouting that from these virtual pages just as loudly as we could. But Washington rarely is able to turn on a dime, and unfortunately that is what it would have taken to fix that and a few other problems. But now there will be no excuse not to get it right.

The good news for most TV stations – most are free to go digital-only. That will help some having a difficult time making ends meet in this troubled economy. It will also be interesting to see what happens when stations start switching and OTA (over the air) viewers start getting left behind despite the delay. Stay tuned – if you can.