The U.S. House of Representatives yesterday approved a delay in the deadline for U.S. broadcasters to abandon traditional analogue broadcasting frequencies and go digital.

The so-called compromise delay measure lets broadcasters make the switch as originally planned on February 17 or wait until this coming June 12. But, if they switch now, they may lose some faithful viewers.

The delay was originally proposed when figures came to light indicating that at least 6.5 million U.S. households — and, perhaps, as many as 20 million — would not be prepared for the switch this month.

Those directly affected by the switch fall into the dwindling minority of U.S. TV viewers who are not hooked up to cable or satellite systems and are still using conventional antennas to directly receive TV signals. They’ll either have to connect to cable or satellite services or get set-top adapter boxes so their older, analogue sets can receive the new digital transmissions.

The U.S government offered grants of (US)$40 per household, starting last year, toward the cost of the set-top adapters but that program ‘sold out’ of more than a Billion in allotted funding before the demand was met. An additional (US)$600 million was recently approved as part of U.S. President Obama’s economic stimulus program.

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