Warc Blog

US Digital TV Switch: Republicans Defy Senate to Block Delay Bill

30 January 2009
WASHINGTON, DC: Republicans in the House of Representatives have defied the US Senate by blocking legislation to postpone America's transition to digital-only television from February 17  until June.

The proposal was approved by the Senate on January 26, but Texas Republican House member Joe Barton and his allies know better. Flying in the face of the evidence, he wrote a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi declaring: "The DTV-transition program is neither stuck nor broke."

The 'Gallant Old Party' maintains that postponing the transition would confuse consumers; while concerns that many viewers aren't ready are overstated.

This convenietly ignores data from The Nielsen Company that just eighteen days ahead of switchover, some 6.5 million US homes are still unable to receive digital-TV programming.

Comments Joel Kelsey of Consumers Union: "It's disappointing to us to see a bipartisan compromise in the Senate and the administration snatched from the jaws of victory by partisan members in the House."

But Republican members, it seems, are more sympathetic to the plight of Qualcomm, the world's biggest maker of wireless chips.

The company claims that a delay would result in "tens of millions" in extra expenses and would slow down the rollout of its MediaFLO wireless video service into four markets, including San Francisco and Miami.

Data sourced from Wall Street Journal Online; additional content by WARC staff

 
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