To Delay… or Not to Delay

By: Mikel Lauber
By: Mikel Lauber

It’s likely that much of the time you see me on NewsChannel 7, I’m speaking about the digital transition in a public service announcement.  For more than a year, we’ve been pounding the transition date – February 17th, 2009, into our heads.


 Now we may have to start memorizing a new date – June 12th, 2009. 


As most of you have no doubt heard by now, President Barack Obama’s administration is pushing for the delay of the F.C.C.’s required transition to all-digital broadcasting for high-powered television stations.  A proposal for the delay passed the Senate before being defeated in the House this week.  Now legislation is expected to be voted on again, and the White House believes passage is very likely.



  So the big question – how would this affect YOU?


 Here’s the deal:  NewsChannel 7 is planning to transition to all-digital broadcasts on February 17th, even if the transition isn’t mandated until June 12th.  We have petitioned the F.C.C. for permission to switch over on February 17th no matter what, and are hoping for their approval.


There are a number of reasons for this decision but the most important may be this:  The number one feedback we’re hearing from you viewers is that you ARE ready for the transition, but some of you are having problems pulling in our digital signal.  The reason is we’re not yet broadcasting at full DIGITAL power, and we can’t broadcast at full DIGITAL power until our ANALOG signal is turned off.


 We believe that delaying our full digital broadcast would cause frustration for more viewers than it would help.  And we’re not alone.  Stations all across the country have petitioned the F.C.C. for the February switch – regardless of a possible delay.  In fact, this week the F.C.C. said that 133 TV stations have already switched to all-digital, 67 more will switch before February 17th, and another 93 will switch at midnight on the 17th no matter what happens with delay legislation.



However, there are reasons a delay could make sense.  There's currently a converter box coupon waiting list - meaning some of you who need the boxes may not yet have them.  This would mean SNOW in the forecast for February 18th when it comes to your TV. 


 If nothing else, it seems this delay is just one more thing that could make an already confusing topic more complex.  See: This humorous, though hopefully exagerated video -


So what do you think?  Would delaying the DTV transition help more viewers prepare?  Or are you hoping the February date sticks?

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