So much for a "hard date" to avoid consumer confusion. Bang-up job, everyone.
Wednesday night, the House of Representatives voted 264 to 158 to delay the date of the big analog TV switch-off four months down the road to June 12th. The House also voted to allow people with expired converter coupons to re-apply for new cards. President Obama is expected to sign the bill into law shortly.
TV stations that are ready now can still shut down their analog transmitters on Feb 17th, or any time before June 12th.
“While broadcasters are still permitted to move forward on February 17, and some will do so, I hope that many will think of the needs of their customers and carefully weigh their options. This bill gives them an opportunity to stay the course through to June 12 until more help can be put in place.”
Meanwhile, the Consumer Electronics Association, who has fought to keep the original transition date of Feb 17th warns that there will most likely be shortages as consumers try to get converters because manufacturers and retailers had planned their inventory based on the Feb. 17 date. All that has to change now that the date has moved back four months.
"CEA urges Congress and the Administration to take the necessary steps to ensure converter box availability and to urge consumers to act immediately to enjoy the benefits of DTV,” Said CEA prez Gary Shapiro.
The current backlog of people waiting for coupons is now over 2 million strong.
And now there are reports that some of the converter boxes currently in use are having problems doing their job correctly, distorting colors, mis-matching audio lip sync and some just not working at all. As more people run out to get converter boxes, and as manufacturers rush to try to keep up with demand, its inevetable that more problems are going to be encountered in the near future.
Also, I am hearing that some of the information that the FCC has been giving to help consumers try to make sense of this new digital quagmire is innacurate.
In the months between February and June expect television to become a wasteland of here today, gone tomorrow channels, malfunctioning converters, and irate television viewers. And never mind the fact that this delay costs broadcasters millions as digital transmitters sit idle waiting to be used, and communication companies that have forked out millions to purchase the frequencies have to wait to launch their products.
To paraphrase one television engineer "this is nucking futz."