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Second Vote by House of Representatives Passes 264 to 158

Due to the backing of President Barack Obama, legislation to delay the February 17 deadline to cut off full-power analog television broadcasting has passed in the U.S. House of Representatives. The bill has already been approved by the Senate, and will now go to the President to be signed into law.

A previous version of the bill passed unanimously in the U.S. Senate on January 26, but was rejected by the House.

The bill postpones the cutoff date to June 12, but allows stations to cease analog broadcasting at any time by informing the Federal Communications Commission. Over 143 stations have already halted analog broadcasting, with another 276 stations ready to shut down on February 17, even with the extension.

High power consumption is one of the reasons why these stations are switching to digital early. A five megawatt analog UHF transmitter consumes as much as $25,000 per month in electricity, a stunning figure when many stations are already laying off staff due to falling advertsing revenues.

Another reason is the lack of available riggers who are able to work on the television broadcasting towers. Many riggers have been booked years in advance, and many have been working to erect digital transmitters for the last several years to prepare for the changeover.

Even though U.S. television stations have been advertising the changes for the last several years, President Obama is concerned that there are still 6.5 million households that are still not ready for the transition.

The February 17 date was specified by the Digital Transition and Public Safety Act of the United States Congress, which was enacted on October 20, 2005.

Since March 1, 2007, all new television devices that receive signals over the air have been required to include ATSC DTV tuners. These include computer based TV receivers such as found in the All-In-Wonder line, portable handheld televisions, and VCRs.

Starting on January 1, 2008, the National Telecommunications and Information Administration of the Department of Commerce received requests from households for up to two $40 coupons for DTV converter boxes which would enable viewing of degraded DTV programming on analog television.

However, the Commerce Department announced on January 5, 2009, that the $1.34 billion limit on coupon funding had been reached.

The new Bill provides an additional $650 million for coupons, courtesy of the President's economic recovery plan.

Licenses for $16 billion of spectrum freed up by the switch to DTV have been purchased by AT&T and Verizon Communications. Under the Senate's plan, these would be extended by four months as compensation.

Canada, America's neighbor to the north, will face its own DTV transition hurdles on August 31, 2011.



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Stupid
By wwwebsurfer on 2/5/2009 8:29:08 AM , Rating: 5
One day, in a land far far away we're going to elect a series of representation with brains so crap like this doesn't happen again. This is 650 million pissed away that creates no jobs on US soil and provides no tangible benefit to it's people. We aren't cutting the radio off if they need timely information.

I can't wait until we go to broadcast over IP. They'll delay it 3 years because we'll need to provide free internet vouchers for the elderly and low-income that if had only watched 30 minutes of TV in the last year would have seen the numerous notices about the switch.




RE: Stupid
By FITCamaro on 2/5/2009 9:10:27 AM , Rating: 5
Next headline: Congress rejects bill to get a clue. Says country not ready.


RE: Stupid
By Suomynona on 2/5/09, Rating: -1
RE: Stupid
By FITCamaro on 2/5/2009 9:14:37 AM , Rating: 2
The tangible part being their @$$ stuck to the couch that they never get off.


RE: Stupid
By Fritzr on 2/5/2009 12:21:51 PM , Rating: 2
Not all ... I never got a compliant TV or converter box due to the fact that I watch maybe 2-3hrs a week. I do have a WinTV HD adapter for my computer ... just need to invest in a decent antenna someday since I get 3 PBS (KSPS) HD broadcasts and just 2 commercial (both from the same station)

My analog TV still receives 8 stations. 7 commercial and the KSPS analog signal. The converter box was and still is not something I feel a need to buy. I probably will eventually get one so that I can continue to use my old computer systems with new TVs, but that is for the future.

My analog set uses a set top rabbit ear antenna. That says something for the ability to receive digital signals near the fringe of the broadcast. Gonna be a lot of folks missing out on the morning farm report.

My @$$ isn't stuck to the couch ... it's usually stuck to the computer chair :P


RE: Stupid
By Keeir on 2/5/2009 1:12:23 PM , Rating: 2
I would say... your not someone who needs a government subsizided converter box then. You clearly knew what was happening, how it would happen, etc and choose willingly not to prepare. You have alternate means of TV reception, and sounds like enough means that a 30-50 dollar converter box will not be a hardship.


RE: Stupid
By ice456789 on 2/5/2009 1:29:28 PM , Rating: 2
But he is one of the 6.5 million. I'm assuming the vast majority of those 6.5 million want nothing to do with government coupons for whatever reason.


RE: Stupid
By omnicronx on 2/5/2009 2:27:35 PM , Rating: 2
I'm pretty sure that 6.5 million number are those who signed up to receive the coupon and did not because of lack of funding. There are plenty more than 6.5 million homes that are not ready for the shutdown, but probably don't care.


RE: Stupid
By Keeir on 2/5/2009 3:53:10 PM , Rating: 2
Nope

http://blog.nielsen.com/nielsenwire/wp-content/upl...

6.5 Million as of 1/18/2009 by Nielson Survey. Thats completely "unprepared" as in no additional source of TV.

The sad truth is that for 95%+ of the country, this bill does nothing.

Waiting list stands are approx 2.1 million -coupons- which we can reasonable assume is 1-1.5 million household

http://www.broadcastingcable.com/file/2439-click_h...

Sad... but 11 million coupons are currently "unused" and waiting to expire. Why, thats almost 2x times the households totally unprepared!

I wonder how many of the 2.1 million coupon requests currently in the wait list were part of the 13.7 million coupons that expired!


RE: Stupid
By eldon111 on 2/5/2009 7:37:27 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
This is 650 million pissed away that . . . provides no tangible benefit to it's people.
quote:
We aren't cutting the radio off if they need timely information.


I agree. This is TV we're talking about here. Since when is television a necessity of life? If someone really feels that they need to watch TV, they'll scrape up the $40 it costs to buy a converter. People spend money they don't have on things they don't need every day, and this is no different.


RE: Stupid
By Oregonian2 on 2/5/2009 10:20:52 PM , Rating: 4
quote:
I agree. This is TV we're talking about here. Since when is television a necessity of life?

Since around 1960~1961 or so. That's about when (if not even earlier than that) U.S. presidents (and others) became TV stars and are elected based on their TV stardom. TVs are now required as part of the political powerbase.


RE: Stupid
By TSS on 2/5/2009 11:37:00 PM , Rating: 4
is anybody else humored by the fact it took them 3-4 years to prepare for the switch, which then still isnt ready, but they can delay the switch within a month?


Suckage will not help ANYONE
By YoshoMasaki on 2/5/2009 8:35:37 AM , Rating: 5
Some 61% of stations will go ahead and turn off analog well before June 12. Can you imagine the additional suffering this highly publicized decision by Congress will cause when that happens?

*TV goes black*

"But, but, but ... I thought we had until June now!?! @o@ I'm gonnah call up mah rep-ruh-zentah-tive!"




RE: Suckage will not help ANYONE
By CU on 2/5/2009 8:39:04 AM , Rating: 2
That is my thought. What is the point if they can cut it off now. I would think most will will end transmission well before June 12th which will just causing more confusion.


RE: Suckage will not help ANYONE
By Targon on 2/5/09, Rating: 0
By Bender 123 on 2/5/2009 9:11:36 AM , Rating: 2
Great...now its open to the stations to go when they want to...That wont cause any confusion <Sarcasm Off>

Within a day, every station in my area said they were sticking to the Feb date, because they already had contracts in place to knock the old equipment down and it costs thousands upon thousands of dollars a month extra to keep a dual transmitters going.

The upside is i will be able to see the Engadget confused old lady with TV picture for a few more months...


RE: Suckage will not help ANYONE
By ice456789 on 2/5/2009 9:09:33 AM , Rating: 5
And you have to ask yourself... what ELSE made it into this bill? Bills almost never make it through the house and senate without someone tagging something to it that costs us money.
'I'll vote for this bill if we include funds for local stations to help them make the switch.'
'I'll vote for this bill if we include $1m in funds for highway restoration in Kentucky.'

If the bill has inherently no purpose, it just means that the public can't see the real purpose. Those 6.5 million people's TV's will still black out on the 17th.

Let's look at those funds. We've added $650m in funds, to assist 6.5 million households. That's $100 per household, but the coupons are only $40 each. Let's assume that each of those households get the government alloted 2 coupons per household (ridiculous by the way). That's $80, so where does the extra $20 per household go? THAT is the question everyone should be asking. Because I bet it goes to tax benefits for people who don't pay taxes, or to subsidize corn production for ethanol. It certainly doesn't go to helping the DTV transition.


RE: Suckage will not help ANYONE
By chmilz on 2/5/2009 11:05:18 AM , Rating: 2
While I agree completely, let's not forget that the government likely leased some prime office space, filled it with 100 of the least-qualified folks in the area, plus a few dim managers with ridiculous government salaries, new computers, photocopiers, a handful of $10,000 toilets and gave it an annual budget of a couple extra million in case they run out of pencils.

I hope those toilets can handle the flushing of that much money.


RE: Suckage will not help ANYONE
By Screwballl on 2/5/2009 10:23:45 AM , Rating: 2
There are several local stations in northwest FL and southern AL that have either already made the switch (on Feb 1, like the Dothan, AL stations) or will do so on Feb 17 as originally planned. I saw an ad this morning on a Pensacola station saying "even if the DTV extension is signed by Obama, we will still make the switch as originally planned on Feb 17".

Many stations that are ready will switch any day now or Feb 17. Luckily this bill does not "require" any station to delay the switch, it only moves the "required switch by" date back.


By Oregonian2 on 2/5/2009 10:24:08 PM , Rating: 2
I really don't see why very many would want to keep the analog transmitter going. Certainly 100% were ready to turn them off by now (or in another week or two). Just will cost them money to leave it on.


So apparently...
By FITCamaro on 2/5/2009 9:13:11 AM , Rating: 5
quote:
The new Bill provides an additional $650 million for coupons, courtesy of the President's economic recovery plan.


$650 million for the unemployed and elderly to get converter boxes so they can watch TV will stimulate the economy.

Obama is a f*cking genius.




RE: So apparently...
By lifeblood on 2/5/2009 1:15:40 PM , Rating: 2
Isn't this the same as Bush's idea of a stimulus? Give money back to the public to spend on what they want to stimulate the economy? The only difference here is that this money is a coupon for a specific product rather than a check.

Of course, with ether method, if you spend the money/coupon on a foreign built item, than it doesn't really do crap for the US economy.

I swear I would buy exclusively American, but the quality of many American products just does not equal it's foreign competition.


RE: So apparently...
By cmdrdredd on 2/5/2009 6:04:03 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Of course, with ether method, if you spend the money/coupon on a foreign built item, than it doesn't really do crap for the US economy.


Well, you have to buy it from a retail location somewhere. SO even if you go buy a Samsung DVD player from Best-Buy you give Samsung money which is a Korean company but you also give best-Buy money. Plus, Samsung has warehouses, and offices in the US. It does eventually trickle back somehow.

Unless you fly to Japan to buy a PS3 or something...


RE: So apparently...
By Lugaidster on 2/6/2009 7:49:02 AM , Rating: 2
In which case you still payed an airline who works with America. So money still goes to the country.


RE: So apparently...
By Oregonian2 on 2/5/2009 10:32:37 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
I swear I would buy exclusively American, but the quality of many American products just does not equal it's foreign competition.


If you speak about quality at the same price level (vs China in particular) I'd agree with you. But speaking more generally, I'd say the US stuff can be very good -- it'll just cost (perhaps a lot) more. Of course, for practical reasons, companies may not even try to make U.S. based products with high quality because most people aren't like you. Unfortunately history I think has proven that most will go for the lower price even if it's not-domestic and even if the quality is a little lower. "Price rulez" so long as the product is "adequate".

That said, I know of things that were tried to be manufactured in China where the quality was very bad and production had to be brought back to the US. Mind you the Chinese made units were a lot less expensive, but there were a very large number of rejects -- so it also depends how a manufacturer values quality (and how their customers value it).


RE: So apparently...
By clovell on 2/5/2009 1:20:06 PM , Rating: 4
You what I don't understand - why Two? Why give out Two coupons per household? If this is really covering some gap in basic necessity, shouldn't one be enough? We likely wouldn't even be in this situation if we just gave out one per household - and, believe me, a lot of people can watch a 19" screen.

I mean, it's just ridiculous - we're not just handing out coupons based on the premise that people need a working television - we're doing it based on the premise that poeple NEED TWO WORKING TELEVISIONS!!!

I guess we have more than one administration to thank for that, though. And, where is this change I heard so much about? Why are we still passing stimulus packages and bailouts, and handing out money? Where is the 'end of George Bush's failed economic policy' that won the election?

/rant - you may now rate me down.


RE: So apparently...
By Oregonian2 on 2/5/2009 10:35:28 PM , Rating: 2
That may be why a lot of coupons are not used. People got both because one could and that they were free. Only one (or none) were used because money would have to be used for the device and the second one wasn't needed.


Government intervention is good?
By lifeblood on 2/5/2009 8:40:28 AM , Rating: 2
I find it humorous that all those who rant and rave about government regulations and interference in the economy, support the government mandated move to digital. What happen to letting the market decide? Where are your principles? Isn't this socialism in disguise? Or are we actually admitting the government sometimes has a role? I shudder at the thought.

/end sarcasm

On a serious note, I do wish they would just do it. History shows that those who are not ready now will not be ready in a few months. Some just are not going to do anything until they have no choice.




By Bateluer on 2/5/2009 8:49:13 AM , Rating: 5
In response to your sentence about letting the market decide. Government already screwed up the market by restricting ISPs. How many choices of broadband provider do you have? Most have just two, the 'local' cable and the 'local' phone company. Sometimes there's a third option, usually a slower DSL available.

These companies don't compete with each other, they are a duopoly and exist only to screw over their customers. See Comcast.

If left to their own devices, they'd charge ever increasing fees while continuing to restrict and throttle bandwidth.

Government intervention created the problem in the first place, this government intervention is a half assed attempt to resolve the problem they created. If they wanted to improve the market, they'd lift the restrictions on the main lines, which are dominated by a handful of conglomerates. Let any company use the lines to provide ISP services. This brings its own problems though, such as who is responsible for maintaining the lines. If Company A spends millions to upgrade a section only to have Company B begin offering services in the same section, likely at a cheaper price because they didn't have to foot the bill for the initial upgrade. How do Europe, Japan, and South Korea manage their backbones?


RE: Government intervention is good?
By Keeir on 2/5/2009 1:08:45 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
I find it humorous that all those who rant and rave about government regulations and interference in the economy, support the government mandated move to digital. What happen to letting the market decide? Where are your principles? Isn't this socialism in disguise? Or are we actually admitting the government sometimes has a role? I shudder at the thought.


I think you misunderstand a basic principle at work here. The Government is not mandating WHAT stations broadcast etc. They are simply moving the marketplace from one area to another.

The coupon program is socialism. And I think most here that are "rant and rave"ing don't suppose the original coupon program or new continued coupon program.


By Oregonian2 on 2/5/2009 10:42:54 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
The coupon program is socialism. And I think most here that are "rant and rave"ing don't suppose the original coupon program or new continued coupon program.


Why is the coupon program socialism? It's pure capitalism -- they were done as a result of contract negotiation with the TV stations to mitigate the concern of the TV stations about having their viewing base being cut off. The government is NOT "paying off" the population, they're acting in behalf of the TV Stations in exchange for the TV stations going along with their switchover objectives. It also is being financed by part of the government net profits.

I once overheard in a store one person grumbling about how the government is ripping him off by spending tax money for the digital TV program -- where in fact the government is turning a profit.


fvck
By Visual on 2/5/2009 8:32:27 AM , Rating: 5
USA just got self-pwnt.




RE: fvck
By michal1980 on 2/5/2009 8:58:35 AM , Rating: 2
LOL

Thanks for that needed it.


Changes
By Majes on 2/5/2009 9:08:28 AM , Rating: 2
I rather like the changes to this bill, but I still dont really see the point in moving things back.

I also never knew that a television station rang up such an incredible power bill. 25,000 a month! Will the digital broadcasting be any cheaper?




RE: Changes
By tedrodai on 2/5/2009 1:53:43 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
High power consumption is one of the reasons why these stations are switching to digital early.


So supposedly, yes.


RE: Changes
By Oregonian2 on 2/5/2009 10:44:37 PM , Rating: 2
In any case, it's definitely cheaper to not broadcast BOTH digital and analog which is what most, if not all, are doing now.


Damn this place is a mess...
By CupCak3 on 2/5/2009 12:11:06 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
The new Bill provides an additional $650 million for coupons, courtesy of the President's economic recovery plan.


WTF does this do to help our economy? Hey, let's keep enabling the lazy. It is their RIGHT to watch TV in case you didn't know.

I'm glad we're able to secure the jobs of the $3/hr workers in China to build all the converter boxes for us! At least we're helping someone's economy I guess.




RE: Damn this place is a mess...
By dsraa on 2/5/2009 2:06:22 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
I'm glad we're able to secure the jobs of the $3/hr workers in China to build all the converter boxes for us! At least we're helping someone's economy I guess.


Isn't it beautiful how the world works? :)

Got one country that gives money to the people to buy boxes made in another country just so they can sit on their ass some more! OH BOY!!!!


WFT is our government thinking?
By superflex on 2/5/2009 9:16:35 PM , Rating: 1
For fuck's sake, we've now just socialized television viewing.
Arrrrrgggggghhhhh




By Oregonian2 on 2/5/2009 10:48:49 PM , Rating: 2
I assume you're referring to the fixed channel numbers and standards rather than just letting each company pick their own frequencies and broadcast methods and let the market decide?


Great...
By Goty on 2/5/2009 10:06:32 AM , Rating: 2
So, all the stations are probably going to stop broadcasting ANYHOW, and all that bandwidth that companies paid to use (on the understanding that it would be available on Feb. 17th, mind you) is just going to sit there, not being utilized at all.

Wonderful, another complete f*ckup by the government.




great, just absolutely wonderful
By johnsonx on 2/5/2009 10:36:38 AM , Rating: 2
Nice way to add to the headache. I use computer-based PVR (GB-PVR) for all tv viewing and recording, and went to digital months ago. One thing that was supposed to happen on February 17th is that most stations were going to move their digital broadcasts from their temporary channel assignments back to their traditional broadcast channels once they shut down the analog broadcast. So, I've known I was going to have to re-scan my channels to pick up the new frequency assignments, and re-map them to my program guide data. This was going to be a minor headache, given that it was all going to happen at once on a well known date...

Now, some channels may still switch on Feb 17th, others may switch at some later time, still others will wait until June. I probably won't know about a channel switch until someone goes to watch a program that should have been recorded and just gets a black screen instead.

Great work gubberment, you made a fairly well planned and advertised transition into a mess.




By BigToque on 2/5/2009 11:02:53 AM , Rating: 2
The TV Companies have been preparing to switch over for a Feb. 17 date for a very long time now.

I doubt many companies are gonna keep broadcasting in analog because a bill passed 12 days before the deadline.




Not so bright folks
By unrated on 2/5/2009 12:57:43 PM , Rating: 2
The fundamental problem with this bill is that it is supposedly intended to help individuals, but it lets the stations decide what to do. The stations will do what is in their best interest, which in most cases is to convert on Feb 17 since they have the logistics in place for that date.

This bill would have been appropriate if the stations were having trouble preparing for the switch, but that isn't the case.




watch Canadian TV instead
By garydale on 2/5/2009 1:34:44 PM , Rating: 2
Canada isn't going fully digital for another year or so. All you need is to be somewhere near the border. Of course, Canadians living near the border are going to miss some of their favourite shows if they're not available on a local Canadian station.

I've been waiting for HD since the 1970s. I thought it would never arrive. Even SD digital makes NTSC analog look sick. Come on people, let's get this switch over finalized already!




What about the ads?
By cmdrdredd on 2/5/2009 5:58:57 PM , Rating: 2
Are the ad agencies and stations going to get reimbursed for wasting money and time on the "Get ready for Digital! Feb 17 is the deadline" ads? Today I saw no less than 2 billboards owned by Clear Channel that said Feb 17 was the digital switch. Yesterday I saw a bunch of TV spots on local networks telling everyone to get a converter box and the website to check out for info, they also said Feb 17 was the date.

So now we confuse the hell out of people, waste money and time of the companies that make these ads, cost stations thousands a month in extra electricity used to keep old analog gear going, and simply waste government resources.




Procrastinators
By Josh7289 on 2/6/2009 1:00:56 AM , Rating: 2
Will just keep procrastinating, so this bill was pointless.




OH COME ON!!
By blueboy09 on 2/6/2009 5:08:04 AM , Rating: 2
Good grief! Another delay again. Congress will just keep on procrastinating because they feel its not important to them. Unfortunantly, this wastes our money and the end result is more stalling and more of our money being wasted. When will the insanity end?




By crafty on 2/7/2009 5:23:51 PM , Rating: 1
Look, old people vote. It's one of the reasons why they get single payer universal healthcare funded by guess who? Young people who a lot of times don't have healthcare. You know why that happened? Because old people vote, and not just in Presidential elections.

You want your US representatives to care about your whining? Vote the assholes out of office. They added a prescription drug benefit to medicare while tens of millions of Americans have no or little healthcare insurance. All because they are scared of old people. Old people's TVs going off scares the hell out of Congress so they delayed it. None of anybody's whining here is going to change anything unless you go and do something about it.




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