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Digital TV delay back on track

Bloomberg News / January 31, 2009
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WASHINGTON - The US House is likely to approve legislation postponing next month's transition to digital television until June, and President Obama plans to sign it, a White House spokesman said.

"We anticipate that the House will pass a delay," White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said yesterday. "The president will sign that delay into law."

The Senate Thursday night voted for a second time to move the switch to June 12 from Feb. 17, sending the measure to the House. The House this week fell short of getting the two-thirds majority needed to pass the legislation under a streamlined procedure. House leaders can bring it back up needing only a simple majority vote.

The bill that passed the Senate Thursday incorporates changes the House wanted and gives the chamber "a second chance next week to implement this delay," Senator Jay Rockefeller, a West Virginia Democrat who sponsored the measure along with Texas Republican Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison, said in a statement.

"We didn't have a well thought-out and coherent and coordinated plan to ease the transition," Michael Copps, the acting chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, said yesterday. "There is consumer disruption down the road we've been on."

Major TV stations are to stop sending traditional analog signals when the change occurs. A federal program to subsidize equipment that some people need has run short of funds. More than 6.5 million homes aren't able to receive digital TV programming, the Nielsen Co. said last week.

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