WASHINGTON, DC: Citing concerns about consumer readiness for America's switch to digital-only TV, President-elect Barack Obama yesterday (Thursday) urged Congress to delay the planned changeover date of February 17.

In a letter to congressional leaders John Podesta, co-chair of the Obama transition team, wrote: "We have discovered major difficulties in the preparation for the February 17 conversion. In addition, the government's programs to assist consumers through the upheaval of the conversion are inadequately funded."

He asked Congress to put back the transition date until later in the year, although no alternative date was mentioned for the termination of the analog signal.

The request follows Monday's revelation that the Bush administration's $1.5 billion coupon program to help consumers buy the necessary digital converters was on the verge of running out of money.

Congressional leaders are already mulling how to pump more money quickly into the troubled government coupon program.

Blasted Consumers Union official Chris Murray: "Considering the federal treasury is going to book nearly $20 billion in revenue from the DTV spectrum auction, we think this is the right move. Consumers shouldn't have to pay for this transition they didn't ask for."

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