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House Committee Approves DTV Bill

Washington — The House Energy and Commerce Committee voted 33-17 yesterday to approve a digital television transition bill that calls for a Dec. 31, 2008, end to analog TV broadcasting and allocates $990 million to subsidize the cost of digital-to-analog set-top converter boxes for consumers.

The measure conflicts with a similar bill approved a week earlier by the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation, and approved Wednesday by the Senate Budge Committee in a reconciliation bill. That bill, which will go to Senate floor next week, earmarks $3 billion for set-top box subsidies and sets an April 7, 2009, analog cutoff date.

During the House Energy and Commerce Committee markup session, a Democratic-sponsored proposal to allocate approximately $3.5 million for set-top box subsidies was rejected, as was a separate amendment that would have given each household a voucher for two free converter boxes.

Commenting on the House Bill, Gary Shapior, CEA president, said, “We are gratified by the expressions of bipartisan support for a hard analog cutoff date, and a recognition of the immense public benefits that will be brought by new wireless broadband services and additional spectrum for first responders. This bill will deliver much needed confidence and clarity to consumers, manufacturers, broadcasters and all others with a stake in the transition.”