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DTV transition date could be delayed

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By Cade Fowler - bio | email

January, 9 2009

ALBANY, GA (WALB) -  By now you've seen the commercials counting down the days until the Big Switch. But just 40 days ahead of the transition from analog to digital, there is cause for concern.

This week, the federal program that offers the $40 coupons consumers can use toward the purchase of a DTV converter box ran out of money.

President-elect Barack Obama is now asking Congress to push back the February 17th switch to a later date.

A Nielsen survey released in December showed an estimated 7.7 million households in America were not prepared for the Big Switch. Without the coupon program, affected consumers would have to purchase a convertor box at retail price or subscribe to a cable or satellite provider in order to get a television signal.

In a letter to key members of Congress, John Podesta, co-chairman of the Obama-Biden transition team, urged members to extend the analog cut off date.  Podesta wrote, "With coupons unavailable, support and education insufficient, and the most vulnerable Americans exposed, I urge you to consider a change to the legislatively-mandated analog cutoff date."

For the date to postponed, Congress would have to pass a new law. In the mean time, Podesta's letter indicates that over 1 million coupon reuqests remain on a wait list.