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A spirit that is not afraid

Congress pushes back digital conversion to June 12

The deadline for the transition from analog to digital television has been pushed back, lessening the worries of millions of unprepared households.

According to Federal Communications Commission Web site, Congress passed the "DTV Delay Act," extending the transition date from Feb. 17 to June 12. The purpose of the date change is to allow consumers more time to prepare for the transition and for the coupon program to obtain more funding.

Ed Youngblood, assistant professor in communications and journalism, said the Federal Communications Commission is supportive of the delay.

"(The FCC estimated) around 5 percent of the country was not ready for the transition, in part because of the problem with the coupon program," Youngblood said. "There are still some people that are fairly irritated that that's happening."

Youngblood said he thinks in order for the date change to be effective, the government is going to have to solve some problems.

"In particular, that's going to mean fixing the coupon program," Youngblood said. "The idea with the coupon program is that it gets the cost of the tuner down to $10 to $15, because they're around $40 or $50."

The program ran out of money, he said, so consumers are on waiting lists for coupons. People are also reporting they are not able to find tuners in some areas of the country.

Timothy Meeks, an Auburn graduate, said he thinks the deadlines are illogical.

"Deadlines are arbitrary," Meeks said. "People will not have confidence that a switch will occur in June or any other time with the continued extensions."

Youngblood said this problem will eventually be solved regardless of whether people make the transition.

"Some of this will be solved as people's televisions die," Youngblood said. "It's been a law for a couple of years now that if you manufacture a television, it's got to have a digital tuner in it."

Consumers have dealt with this type of situation before, he said, when UHF was introduced.

"They assigned UHF, and lot of people didn't have tuners," Youngblood said. "The government had to mandate that the companies, if (they) built a television set that it picked up UHF."

According to, some stations will not wait until June 12 to shut off their analog signal.

"We encourage stations that terminate their analog signal on Feb. 17 to continue to broadcast on their analog signal information regarding their transition and, if necessary, emergency information," said

Youngblood said the good thing is that a lot of the stations that were having concerns will still be able to end their broadcast of analog.

"It's pretty expensive," Youngblood said. "(It's) around $10,000 a month to run the analog transmitter."

Meeks said that he wants the switch to occur sooner than later.

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"I would prefer to make the switch now," Meeks said, "then make efforts to assist those negatively impacted."

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