Saturday, November 22, 2008

Analog TV to continue past February?

The "Short-term Analog Flash and Emergency Readiness Act", S.3663, has passed the U.S. Senate.

(why "Flash"? Because that way, the bill's acronym spells "SAFER".....)

This law would require the FCC to allow analog television to continue for 30 days after the February 17th deadline for conversion to all-digital operation. However, the analog transmitters could only carry information about the digital transition and emergency/safety information.

Stations whose analog channels are between 14-20 or 52-69 are excluded. So are stations whose continued analog operation would interfere with post-transition digital TV. (for example, stations that are using their current analog channels for their post-transition digital broadcasts!)

It does not require any station to leave its analog on the air.

A similar bill has been introduced in the House but has not yet been acted on. President Bush hasn't said whether he'd sign the law but I would be very surprised by a veto. The bill calls for the FCC to act by January 15th -- which is five days before President Obama's inauguration -- so Obama's position on the bill is irrelevant (grin)... (again, I'd be amazed if Obama opposed it)

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Other recent DTV-related legislative proposals would:

- Extend the expiration of DTV coupons, either from 3 months to six, or by setting a single expiration date of March 31st, 2009.

- Provide a $40 income tax credit for each expired coupon, up to two coupons ($80) per taxpayer. Presumably this would have the same effect as setting an expiration date of December 31st, 2009.

- Suspend the import taxes on converter boxes.

To my knowledge none of these bills has passed either house of Congress.

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Edited 2008-11-22 10:13 to add a title!

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

Doug,
What happened to legislation that
would allow analog station near
the Mexican border to remain on the
air for 5 more years?
What stations would be affected?

Doug Smith said...

Haven't heard anything lately about the Mexican border station legislation. I seem to recall a number of the larger stations (including Spanish-language outlets) commenting in opposition to the proposal.

Stations in Mexico (at least in the northern part of the country) are establishing digital transmitters at a pretty good rate -- much faster than the Canadians. I don't think Mexico is that far behind the U.S. in going digital.

Doug Smith said...

I've received word the House has also passed this bill and sent it to President Bush for his signature. Bush has indicated he'll sign it.