DTV Delay Costs Taxpayers Millions, Is Unnecessary

Feb 04, 2009
Frankly Speaking

Today, the House of Representatives passed S.328 the DTV Delay Bill by a vote of 264-158.

On February 17, 2009, our television system will switch from an analog signal to a digital signal.  For those who have cable or a satellite, this switch will not affect you.  However, for those Americans who watch television using an antenna will need to prepare for this switch.  In anticipation of it, the federal government and cable companies have been working together to ensure that all Americans are prepared for the switch.  Coupons to purchase digital converter boxes have been distributed to any American who asked, and the cable companies have spent over $1 billion publicizing the February 17th date.  And this has worked: Of the 14.3 million over-the-air television homes in this country, 13.5 million have already received their converter box coupons. 

According to the Commerce Department, as of January 13th there are approximately 600,000 over-the-air only homes on a waiting list to receive the converter box coupons.  The program has not run out of money, however, there are outstanding coupons that have yet to be used which is causing cash flow problem for the program.  By loaning the program $250 million, we can immediately resume sending coupons to those on the waiting list.  And most, if not all of that money will be recouped once the outstanding coupons expire. 

Instead of following this simple process, Speaker Pelosi and her leadership team passed a bill to spend an additional $400 million- $650 million total- to delay the switch to digital television.  This bill is yet another example of the Speaker’s continual waste of American taxpayers’ money, and I simply could not support it.

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