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Senate Approves DTV Bill

Washington — The U.S. Senate passed a budget reconciliation bill, 52-47, on Thursday that included a cutoff date for analog TV broadcasting of April 7, 2009, and $3 billion for analog converter box subsidies.

During the day, the Senate voted, 69-30, to oppose an amendment proposed by U.S. Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) to complete the DTV transition a year earlier (April 7, 2008), in order to free up spectrum for the needs of first-responders emergency teams.

Senate Commerce Committee Chairman Ted Stevens urged other senators to defeat the amendment because the earlier date would have interfered with the timeline the government requires to garner adequate compensation from the auction of the returned analog broadcast spectrum.

Stevens also proposed funding first responders for emergency communications equipment that would use the spectrum. Developing and implementing the new systems can take up to three years, he said.