DTV Delay: House Postpones Mark-Up of Bill

No new date set for mark-up says Energy and Commerce Committee spokesperson

The Energy & Commerce Committee has postponed a planned mark-up of a bill to delay the DTV transition, with the committee's chairman saying that he will wait to see what happens with a Senate bill.

No new time has been set, though it would likely not be today (Jan. 21), said a source.

The 1:30 p.m. mark-up, which was to have been streamed online, had been set to consider a DTV date-changing bill with a number of elements.

In addition to moving the DTV transition date from Feb. 17 to June 12, the bill would boost funding for the DTV-to-analog converter box coupon program, speeding delivery of the coupons, and trying to accommodate companies who had won reclaimed analog TV spectrum in an FCC auction.

Senator Jay Rockefeller (D-WVA), chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee, had introduced a bill last week that would deal only with moving the date. That bill was supported by the Obama administration, which called for moving the date two weeks ago.

In a letter to House Energy & Commerce Committee Chairman Henry Waxman (D-CA)  and other top legislators last week, then transition team co-chair John Podesta had asked Congress to get behind the Rockefeller bill.

Rockefeller had hoped to get the bill approved swiftly and by unanimous consent last Friday, but that did not happen.

Waxman said in a statement Wednesday that the committee would wait to see how the bill in the Senate proceeded, and pointed out that Republicans on that side of the Hill had blocked Rockefeller's attempt to get his bill passed quickly.

"The transition to digital television is not going well.  There is not enough money for the converter box coupon program and millions of Americans could experience serious problems," said Waxman in a statement e-mailed to B&C.

"Delay of the deadline is our only hope of lessening the impact on millions of consumers.  Without a short, one-time extension, millions of households will lose all television reception.  Late last week Senate Republicans blocked a bill to delay the transition date.

"I have postponed Committee consideration of the DTV markup to give the Committee more time to assess the implications of the Senate action."