Let the Chaos Ensue: DTV Transition Moved to June

Now they’ve gone and done it – House representatives, as predicted, finally have approved moving the DTV transition to June 12.

The DTV delay bill now goes to President Obama, since the Senate already has cleared the same verbiage. Obama’s administration has pushed for an extension, arguing that too many consumers remain in the dark about the transition and at least two million remain on the waiting list for government-funded coupons for converter boxes.

Still, as U.S. News & World Report noted, approximately 300 TV stations will make the original Feb. 17 date anyway. Analysts for the research firm of Stifel Nicolaus noted that creates even more potential “for some over-the-air programming disruption and consumer confusion.”

Beyond the consumer aspect, industry fallout appears limited – with the glaring exception of Qualcomm Inc. (QCOM), wrote David Kaut and Rebecca Arbogast, Stifel Nicolaus analysts. The wireless R&D firm, which paid $550 million for the spectrum TV broadcasters are vacating, has been counting on a prompt Feb. 17 transition; otherwise its mobile TV division, MediaFLO, won’t be able to deploy services on time as planned and Qualcomm will have to pay millions in lost expenses and sales.

The Senate first passed the delay on Jan. 26 while House lawmakers last week, under special rules, shot down the same bill. But analysts said the House would vote again this week, abiding by typical rules, which means the Democratic majority won.

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