02.08.2005 10:07 AM
New budget to require TV stations to pay 'analog' fee

If President Bush’s new budget is approved, broadcasters may have to pay a $500 million fee for use of their current analog TV channels in 2007. The plan is part of the $2.57 trillion budget proposal Bush presented to Congress this week, according to a Reuters report.

Broadcasters currently are required to stop analog transmissions at the end of 2006, or when 85 percent of the American TV viewing audience receives a digital signal, whichever comes later.

Last week, House Commerce Committee Rep. Joe Barton, R-Texas said he wants Congress to enact a "hard date" that would force broadcasters to shut off their analog transmissions by year's end. (Read Congressional leaders demand hard DTV deadline.)

The budget proposal comes days before the FCC is expected to approve another digital TV policy that would increase the pressure on broadcasters.

Broadcasters are attempting to stop the commission from taking the vote that would require cable operators to carry only one digital TV channel for each local TV station. Broadcasters want cable operators to carry all the digital TV signals when broadcasters multicast the programming. (Read Powell has the votes to defeat multicast must-carry.)

For more details about President Bush’s new budget plan, visit www.whitehouse.gov.

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