The U.S. Senate on Feb. 26 voted to postpone the upcoming transition from analog to digital television broadcasting until June 12, according to Associated Press reports.
However, all Kansas stations will be proceeding with the switch at the original deadline, which is Tuesday.
“For many years, television stations have been required to transmit two signals, one analog and one digital, at considerable cost,” said Kent Cornish, president and executive director of the Kansas Association of Broadcasters in a written statement. “Continuing to incur the added cost of maintaining an analog signal after Feb. 17 is an unbudgeted expense for stations coming at a time when all businesses are looking to reduce expenses while trying to avoid job loses. Furthermore, plans have been in the works for years for stations to make the technical changes mandated by the FCC, and for the past year have run millions of dollars in air time educating Kansans about the Feb. 17 deadline. For all of these reasons, it appears television stations in Kansas are likely to proceed under the Feb. 17 deadline and plan to cease analog operations on that date.”
Consumers who subscribe to cable or satellite television service or who own a newer television with a digital tuner will not be affected by the switch, but if consumers still rely on a rooftop or rabbit ear antenna system, the likelihood of reception lose after the switch is increased greatly.
To avoid losing the signal, converter boxes may be purchased. These converters take the new digital signal and convert it into an analog signal the older television sets can understand.
According to reports, in January President Barack Obama called for the transition deadline to be postponed because the Commerce Department hit the $1.34 billon funding limit that supported coupons to help consumers pay for the converter boxes, which generally cost between $40 and $80.
Converter boxes can be purchased without the coupon.
The Nielsen Co. estimated more than 6.5 million U.S. households aren’t prepared for the transition, according to reports.
“Delaying the upcoming DTV switch is the right thing to do,” said Senate Commerce Committee Chairman Jay Rockefeller (D-W. Va.), who is the author of the postponement bill, in an Associated Press report. “I firmly believe that our nation is not yet ready to make this transition at this time.”
According to reports, Jonathan Collegia, vice president for the digital television transition for the National Association of Broadcasters, said the Nielsen numbers may be inflated as they didn’t take into consideration certain variables such as consumers who have already purchased the converter box but have not yet installed them.
In 2005, Congress required broadcasters to switch form analog to digital in order to free up the wireless spectrum so it could be used for commercial wireless and emergency-response systems.