Washington — President Barack Obama on Wednesday signed into law the
, which officially pushes back the day full-power TV stations are to end their analog broadcasts to June 12, 2009.
The measure shifts the timetable for the transition to all-digital TV broadcasting from the previous Feb. 17 deadline, although it also allows broadcasters to seek FCC approval to end their analog transmissions on the Feb. 17 date or earlier, if they can prove an economic hardship in maintaining the cost of two transmissions. They also must show that their analog exit won’t over burden vulnerable viewers in their markets.
Democrats, following the lead of the Obama administration, pushed the legislation through Congress out of concern for the more than 5 million people — especially among the poor and elderly — who were estimated by Nielsen to still be unprepared for the transition.
"During these challenging economic times, the needs of American consumers are a top priority of my administration," Obama said in a statement. "Millions of Americans, including those in our most vulnerable communities, would have been left in the dark if the conversion had gone on as planned, and this solution is an important step forward as we work to get the nation ready for digital TV."