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U.S. House delays digital TV delay, but stay tuned

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Dire reports are out today declaring the death of attempts by the new government to delay next month’s nationwide switch to digital TV. The House failed to pass a bill that would postpone the switch from Feb. 17 to June 12.

The Washington Post calls that ‘a setback for the Obama administration’, as does the Associated Press, which says the bill was defeated.

But don’t read too much into the move. Supporters of the delay still expect it to pass as soon as next week.

The measure, which the Senate approved Monday, needed a two-thirds majority to pass the House on an expedited basis. Strong Republican opposition prevented the fast-tracking. But normal rules require only a simple majority, and the bill received that and more. The House vote was 258-168 in favor of a delay.

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Rep. Rick Boucher, the Virginia Democrat who chairs the House telecommunications subcommittee, told me he was optimistic the chamber would agree to President Obama’s request and vote to put off the digital transition until June so about 6.5 million viewers won’t lose their TV signals next month.

“The likelihood is we’ll come back next week” and pass it, he said.

A spokesman for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, the San Francisco Democrat, said she was looking for a way to hold the vote soon.

-- Jim Puzzanghera


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