On Monday the US Senate voted to delay until June the date when television stations must broadcast digital signals only.
On Wednesday, the House voted 258-168 to delay the digital transition. The bill didn't pass because it was debated under rules requiring a two-thirds vote, a procedure usually reserved for noncontroversial bills.
The House will vote against next week under rules that will ensure the bill will pass. A majority of House members support putting off the digital shift to June 12. Then the measure will go to the White House for President Obama's signature.
Without the bill, all TV stations must stop broadcasting their programs in analog format on Feb. 17. Once TV stations turn off their analog broadcasts, people who rely on over-the-air TV won't receive signals unless they buy a digital television, a converter box, or subscribe to a cable or satellite TV service.
House Republicans are protesting the delay, saying a new analog shut-off date will confuse consumers, harm public safety groups waiting to use the freed-up channels and create havoc for TV stations that have been preparing for the shift for years.
Democrats and consumer advocates say the country isn't prepared for the transition. Among other things, people now must go on a waiting list at the Commerce Department to apply for $40 coupons that offset the cost of digital converter boxes. With several weeks of wait time once the coupons are approved, it is now impossible for applicants to get them in time for a Feb. 17 transition.
As of Wednesday, the Commerce Department had requests for more than 3 million converter box coupons on the waiting list. The Commerce Department is currently sending coupons to people on the waiting list as older, unused coupons expire. (info from The Wall Street Journal)