DTV delay hits bump in road

The final date for the transition to digital TV in the U.S. could still be pushed back even after a bill to delay the move failed to get enough votes in the House of Representatives on Wednesday.

The bill, which passed unanimously in the Senate, would have pushed back the transition from Feb. 17 to June 13.

The House opted to rush the vote, suspending certain procedures, which meant the bill was required to win two-thirds approval rather than a simple majority. It failed to do that, but the House now has the option of bringing the bill to vote again next week, allowing time for a full debate. If it does this, the bill will need only a majority of votes to pass. It had a clear majority on Wednesday, when 258 members voted for the delay and 168 against.

It's unclear if the House will try again next week, however, especially given other weighty issues members of Congress are considering. "They are dealing with an economic crisis," noted Joel Kelsey, a spokesman with the Consumers Union, a group advocating for the delay.

President Obama and some consumer groups have been pushing for the four-month delay, in part because a program that distributed coupons to offset the cost of converter boxes ran out of money. The boxes are required for people who have analog televisions and receive TV over the air. Most people who receive TV over the air are elderly, live in rural communities or are part of low-income families.

The National Telecommunications Industry Administration, which is administering the coupon program, has sent out 20.7 million coupons but has 1.5 million people on a waiting list since the money ran out.