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Senate passes bill to delay DTV transition

Consumers still on analog now have over four months to make the switch

Last night, the U.S. Senate unanimously approved legislation that would move the upcoming digital telvision transition date from February 17 to June 12. The Senate approval could mean that Congress will pass the proposal as early as today according to the Associated Press.

Not that the media industry isn’t ready. According to the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB), 93 percent or 1,631 out of 1,759 full-power TV stations are broadcasting in digital today. Additionally, an article this morning in MediaPost’s MediaDailyNews discusses how Nielsen maintains that they are more than ready to track ratings after the DTV Transition – even if the transition happened today.

NAB Executive Vice President Dennis Wharton issued the following the statement:

“NAB supports legislation passed unanimously by the full Senate that moves the DTV deadline to June 12, while providing flexibility to local stations in adjusting to the new date. We are especially appreciative of the tireless efforts of Commerce Committee Chairman Rockefeller and Ranking Member Hutchison in crafting the compromise bill.

“Local broadcasters and our network partners are proud of the unprecedented billion dollar educational effort we have undertaken to ensure that our viewers are prepared for the switch to digital, and we are grateful for policymaker efforts that underscore over-the-air television’s importance in the fabric of American life. The DTV legislation now moves to the House. NAB salutes the leadership of Commerce Committee Chairman Waxman and his colleagues and we look forward to swift passage of this bill.”

Basically, it’s the general public that still isn’t ready. The National Telecommunications and Information Administration (an arm of the Commerce Department responsible for distributing DTV converter box coupons) has hit their funding limit for sending out coupons for the converter boxes. The NTIA is now sending out coupons as older, unredeemed coupons expire and free up money.

For more info on the transition, see my post, What does the Digital TV Transition mean for media relations professionals?

Want to make sure you’re ready? Check out www.dtvanswers.com.

About Heidi Sullivan

One of PRWeek’s 40 under 40 in 2012, Heidi Sullivan is Senior Vice President of Digital Content for Cision and a self-proclaimed social media metrics nerd. She leads the company’s digital and broadcast content teams, the global research team for Cision’s media database, Cision’s social media community team and the company’s content marketing strategy. You can find her on Twitter @hksully.

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