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McCain Bill Seeks DTV Hard Date

Washington — Following closely House Commerce Committee draft discussions for a digital television transition bill, Sens. Joseph Lieberman (D-Conn.) and John McCain (R-Ariz.) introduced a new bill calling for a hard date for the return of analog TV spectrum of Jan. 1, 2009.

McCain, former chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee, announced his bill ahead of a similar measure being crafted by the Sen. Ted Stevens (R-Alaska), who is the current chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee.

McCain vowed to work with Stevens in crafting final legislation, adding he proposed his bill because he had worked so long on the measure while he was chairman of the committee.

McCain’s new bill, which would turn over portions of the reclaimed analog TV spectrum for emergency services communications needs, is similar to legislation McCain proposed last year under the Save Lives Act (the Spectrum Availability for Emergency Response and Law Enforcement to Improve Vital Emergency Services).

In announcing the bill, McCain blasted broadcasters for dragging their feet in turning over the analog spectrum, warning that they could be held accountable for lives lost in another terrorist attack.

The new bill calls for $463 million subsidy to pay for one digital-to-analog converter box for each of the 9.3 million residents living below 200 percent over the poverty line.

Commenting on the bill, Gary Shapiro, CEA’s president/CEO, said “A hard cutoff date for analog broadcasts, as proposed in the bill, will provide certainty for consumers, manufacturers, broadcasters and all others with a stake in the DTV transition. More, a hard cutoff date will foster innovation and strengthen America’s security, while completing the DTV transition in a timely manner. We look forward to working closely with Senators McCain and Lieberman as this issue moves forward.”