Bucking the Obama administration, House Republicans yesterday defeated a bill to delay the upcoming transition from analog to digital television broadcasting to June 12 — leaving as many as 6.5 million U.S. households unprepared for the switchover.

The 258-168 vote failed to clear the two-thirds threshold needed for passage in a victory for GOP members, who warn that postponing the transition from the current Feb. 17 deadline would confuse consumers.

House Republicans say a delay also would burden wireless companies and public safety agencies waiting for the spectrum that will be freed up by the switch, and create added costs for television stations that would have to continue broadcasting both analog and digital signals for four more months.

The defeat is a setback for President Barack Obama and Democrats on Capitol Hill, who maintain that the Bush administration bungled efforts to ensure that all consumers — particularly poor, rural and low-income Americans — will be ready for next month’s analog shut-off.

Gene Kimmelman, vice-president for federal policy at the Consumers Union which has been lobbying for a delay, said he hopes House Democrats will bring the bill up again for a regular floor vote.

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