The Senate appeared close to agreement Jan. 22 on a bill to delay next month’s planned transition from analog to digital television broadcasting to June 12, setting the stage for a vote early next week, reports the Associated Press. Senate Republicans last week blocked Democratic efforts to push back the Feb. 17 deadline for the analog shutoff. The Democrats cited mounting concerns that too many Americans who rely on analog TV sets to pick up over-the-air broadcast signals won’t be ready. The Nielsen Co. says more than 6.5 million U.S. households are still not prepared for the upcoming transition and could see their TV sets go dark next month. "The shameful truth is that we are not poised to do this transition right," said Senate Commerce Committee Chairman John D. Rockefeller, D-W.V., author of the bill to delay the switchover. "We are only weeks away from doing it dreadfully wrong–and leaving consumers with the consequences." Republicans in both the House and Senate have raised concerns that a delay would confuse consumers, create added costs for television stations that would have to continue broadcasting both analog and digital signals, and burden wireless companies and public safety agencies waiting for spectrum that will be freed up by the switch. But Rockefeller said he had reached a bipartisan compromise and won the crucial support of the committee’s top Republican, Kay Bailey Hutchison of Texas. Rockefeller’s bill aims to address Republican concerns by allowing broadcast stations to make the switch from analog to digital signals sooner than the June 12 deadline if they choose to. It also would permit public safety agencies to take over vacant spectrum that has been promised to them as soon as it becomes available…

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