The U.S. analogue switch off was first planned for December 31, 2006 provided 85% of the population were able to receive DTT. Since this condition was not met on time, the switch off was delayed until February 17, 2009. On February 4, 2009, a bill authored by Senate Commerce Committee Chairman John D. Rockefeller, was passed by the House of Representatives delaying the analogue switch off to June 12, 2009. The measure, which passed unanimously in the Senate, was first rejected by the House of Representatives on January 28, 2007 as most Republican congressmen voted against it. Obama is expected to sign it into law soon.
Among reasons for delaying the switch off, a report from Nielsen Co. revealed than 6.5 million American households are still not prepared for transition and could see their TV set go dark should the February 17 date remain unmoved. Earlier in January, President Barack Obama called for the transition date to be postponed after it emerged that the U.S. Commerce department had reached its $1.34 billion funding limit for coupons to subsidize digital TV converter boxes for consumers.
Rockefeller's bill allows broadcasters to switch from analogue to digital signals ahead of the June 12 deadline. It also permits public safety agencies to take over vacant spectrum that has been promised to them as soon as it becomes available.
Read the full text of the enrolled bill here.