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April ’09 Analog TV Cutoff Proposed

Washington — A U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation leadership bill is calling for completion of the digital television transition on April 7, 2009, when all analog TV broadcasting would be required to end.

A draft of the bill, sponsored by Senate Commerce Committee chairman Ted Stevens (R-Alaska) and ranking member Daniel Inouye (D-Hawaii), includes spending $4.8 billion to fund subsidies for digital-to-analog converter boxes that will be needed by TV households that do not subscribe to cable or satellite services.

However, the current draft did not give any eligibility requirements for receiving a converter-box subsidy.

The National Association of Broadcasters has estimated that 73 million analog TV homes do not receive cable or satellite services, and will require a set-top converter to receive digital TV broadcasts.

Commenting on the measure, the Consumer Electronics Association said, “Senator Stevens and Senator Inouye have taken a critical and necessary step to expedite our nation’s transition to digital television in an effective and pro-consumer manner. CEA has long supported a hard cutoff date for analog broadcasts. A hard date provides certainty to manufacturers, retailers, consumers and all others with a stake in the transition.”

A full-committee markup session on the DTV bill is scheduled for Oct. 19, 2005.