Legislation to delay the nation's switch to all-digital television for four more months hit a roadblock today in the House of Representatives, according to a Reuters report. Earlier this week, the Senate passed its version of the bill and I said then that a delay is unnecessary.
OK, I get it. Millions of people - the poor, the elderly and those who live in rural areas - aren't ready for the switch, even though the educational and awareness campaign has been going for well over a year. I also understand that the government botched the voucher program - so, for some people, it isn't their fault that they're not ready.
But is a four-month delay really going ensure that everyone will be ready then? Or are we going to need another four months come June?
I don't pretend to have the answers on how to make this all better. Sure, I have a couple of ideas - such as lifting the expiration date on those unused vouchers or letting local agencies work with the federal government to ensure that anyone who needs a voucher and/or converter box can get one. But making that happen is beyond my control.
Here's what is in my control. I made sure that my household was ready. I checked in with my parents, my in-laws, some extended family members and a couple of elderly friends who might not know this was coming to make sure they were ready. I had one family member who wasn't sure if she needed to do anything but I reassured her that she was fine. (She subscribes to cable TV.)
So I did my part. Did you do yours? Did you check in with elderly, poor and rural-living friends and family to make sure they knew what to do? Did you help them obtain a voucher, run them to Wal-Mart or Radio Shack or help them connect that converter box.
No, it's not fair that millions could potentially lose their TV signals in the next couple of weeks. But it's also not fair that PBS will have to cough up another $22 million to extend signal transmitter leases that were set to expire on the switch-over date. It's also not fair to subject companies that had plans for that wireless spectrum to a four-month delay at the 11th hour.
Washington would be better off by forgetting about digital TV delays and focusing on things like fixing the economy, restoring jobs and bringing our troops home.
By the way, I solicited your thoughts on this topic by asking, in a poll at the tail end of my last post, whether the government should delay the switch. As of the posting of this entry, 84 percent of you voted for the statement, "No way. We've had plenty of time to prepare. Just do it already."