The House of Representatives voted 264-158 to delay the shutdown of analog television broadcasts by four months to June 12, 2009 after a month-long debate. The original plan was to end analog broadcasts on February 17. This will give more time for Americans to either upgrade their old analog TV sets or get a digital tuner box. President Obama has indicated that he will sign the bill. The current economic stimulus package includes up to US$650 million in financing for coupons to make the transition easier from analog to digital.
Millions of US households are still stuck with analog TVs and are not yet ready to receive digital-only broadcasts. Nielsen estimated the unprepared to be around 6.5 million households. In this economy, purchasing a brand new digital TV might be too much of a financial burden to many; a digital tuner box might be the cheaper and simpler option since all you have to do is connect it to your analog TV.
There are about 1700 local TV stations in the US. These TV stations are allowed to turn off their analog signals before June 12. Several hundred TV stations are moving forward with plans to stop analog signal broadcasts in February. Hawaii is unique: every TV station in that state has already made the transition to digital.
With about US$330 billion, the US can conceivably give $1 million to every individual with a provision that he/she must purchase a digital TV within 1 month or forfeit the amount. The government could add other provisions such as purchasing a hybrid, electric or diesel car within a couple of months, adding solar panels on the roof within the next 6 months, etc. With that kind of deal, I am sure every household in the US will have at least one brand new (and very large!) digital TV. In my opinion, the digital transition would be completed fairly quickly.
Source: The New York Times