Support is growing in the US for a delay to the February 17 deadline for analogue switch-off. President-elect Barack Obama’s transition team has asked Congress to consider delaying the country’s transition from analogue terrestrial TV, claiming poor, rural and elderly residents are unprepared for the cut-off. The letter has led to more people joining the call for a delay.
The law governing the switchover was signed three years ago by President Bush and Congress would have to pass a new law to move that date.
Broadcasters are not happy with such a move, as they have spent a considerable amount of money educating the American public about the upcoming changes.
About eight million homes are thought to be solely dependent on analogue terrestrial reception. These homes are eligible for a special $40 voucher towards the purchase of a digital to analogue set-top box. The problem is that the Commerce Department has already run out of money to fund the scheme, with $1.34 billion having been spent on the programme.
Congressional leaders were already considering pushing back the digital conversion date by three or four months. They’re also looking at how to add more money to the government coupon program quickly.