WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH) announced Senate passage of legislation to delay the transition to digital television. There are nearly 188,000 requests from Ohioans on the wait list for the federal program that helps households prepare for the digital TV switch.

“We need to prevent the switch to digital television from placing too great a financial burden on households,” said Brown. “This bill will make sure more Ohioans are prepared for the transition.”

In 2005, Congress passed legislation requiring analog-broadcast television programs to be converted to digital format by Feb. 17, 2009. To help consumers make the switch, Congress passed a program to provide two $40 coupons to U.S. households requesting assistance to purchase DTV converter boxes.  Coupons were to be issued between Jan. 1, 2008, and March 31, 2009, with a provision that individuals must use their coupons within three months after issuance.

According to the National Telecommunications and Information Administration, there is a waiting list for 187,753 coupons in Ohio. Many additional households have expired coupons that can no longer be used. Delaying the switch will allow more coupon requests to be processed. Since January, 74,249 coupons for Ohio consumers were processed.

The legislation passed Monday evening would delay the upcoming digital television transition to June 12, 2009. However, some television stations would be permitted to switch to digital broadcasting with permission from the Federal Communication Commission. The legislation would also allow consumers with expired coupons to re-apply for replacements. Similar legislation is expected to be passed by the U.S. House of Representatives.