US digital switch-over delay threat

The February 17 analogue switch-off date, when all mainstream US television stations are obliged to switch off their analogue transmissions, looks like slipping. Congressman Ed Markey, chairman of the powerful House Telecoms & Internet sub-committee, has admitted the date might have to move.

The US Consumers Union has formally asked members of Congress to consider a delay: “Until a plan is in place to minimize the number of consumers who will lose TV signals, particularly by fixing the flaws in the federal coupon program created to offset the cost of this transition."

The US government has already said it has exhausted the funding available for subsidising set-top convertor boxes. “Congressman Markey is working on an exemption to the ADA to deal with the immediate waiting list issue," said Daniel Reilly, a spokesman for Markey, speaking to a US trade journal. "But with the date looming, moving the date back certainly warrants further discussion and may be a wise choice.”

It also seems that President-elect Obama’s team has been busy looking at the issue. The Consumers Union is asking for a delay of 4 months or so, possibly to the June 1 Memorial Day weekend.