With the clock ticking toward the Feb. 17 deadline for TV broadcasters to shut off their analog signals and go entirely digital, analysts say more than 6.5 million households are not ready. Now Congress appears poised to postpone the transition to June — but a delay could bring its own problems, reports the Associated Press. To avoid blacking out TV sets in unprepared homes next month, the Obama administration is seeking the delay to give the government more time to fix a subsidy program that has run out of money for coupons that help consumers pay for digital converter boxes for older TVs. Senate Democrats on Jan. 22 reached a deal with skeptical Republicans on a bill to push the digital transition to June 12, setting the stage for a vote early this week. But one big problem with extending the transition, critics warn, is that many TV viewers could be confused. A delay also could be expensive for broadcasters. And it could burden public safety agencies and wireless companies waiting for the airwaves that will be freed by the shutdown of analog signals. Government agencies, consumer groups, television broadcasters, and other parts of the industry have invested more than $1 billion over the past several years to educate consumers about the shift to digital broadcasting. The message all along has been that analog signals would be shut off on Feb. 17. This aggressive campaign has pushed consumer awareness rates well above 90 percent, according to Megan Pollock, a spokeswoman for the Consumer Electronics Association. "We have been working for almost three years to educate consumers that this is the day," Pollock said. "How do we re-create that? It will be hard to start over."
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