Republicans Block Bill to Delay Digital TV Transition, Leaving Millions Unprepared for Switch

Consumer groups had lobbied for the delay, worried that 20 million mostly poor, elderly and rural households are not ready.

Defying President Obama (as well as Democrats in Congress and pretty much anyone with an intelligent, informed position on the issue), House Republicans today defeated a bill that would have postponed the transition to digital TV until June.

Preparations for the switch to digital -- now scheduled to take place on February 17th -- have been beset with problems, including such poor publicity by the FCC that millions don't even realize the transition is set to happen.

To make matters worse, earlier this month the Commerce Department ran out of funding for coupons subsidizing digital converter boxes, prompting then-President-elect Obama to publicly back the delay.

The end result of this general incompetence? According to the AP, less than a month before the mandated switch:

The Nielsen Co. estimates more than 6.5 million U.S. households that rely on analog television sets to pick up over-the-air broadcast signals still are not prepared for the transition.

As consumer rights and media reform groups point out, the poor, rural and elderly will be disproportionately affected.

But what's a few million households without access to television -- including emergency transmissions -- when Republicans can stick it to Obama? As Reuters reports, House Republicans inexplicably decided to blame the President for the bill's failure.

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