The US House of Representatives has approved a delay in the cutoff date for analog television broadcasts.
The delay is to give more time to the estimated 6.5 million people unprepared for the switchover to digital broadcasts.
The date was pushed back four months to June 12, 2009.
Only last month, the House of Representatives voted against a delay.
With full support from President Barack Obama, the bill is likely to be signed into law fairly quickly when it reaches the White House.
The decision is likely to cost taxpayers, broadcasters, and the companies that paid USD $19 billion for the right to use the radio spectrum frequencies that will be freed up from the change, many millions.
What could prove frustrating – to say the least – to those hit with costs as a result of the delay is that commentators suggest at least 5 million people may still be unprepared even with the extension to June.
Another area of possible problem area surrounds Congress’ decision to give stations the option of sticking to the original date 17 February date.
So while the mandatory switchover has been moved back, some stations could individually cut off their analog signals.
A situation could arise where half a city’s local OTA stations go all-digital mid-February, while others delay things until June.
This will not happen with most of the major US television networks – including CBS, ABC, FOX and NBC – as they have decided to fall back to the new June date to prevent chaos.