02.16.2006 12:57 PM
T-Minus Three Years Until the End of Analog Television Broadcasting
...Well, Full Power Broadcasting...Maybe

Three years from today will be the last day of analog broadcasting...for full power TV stations. When president Bush signed the signed the ''Digital Television Transition and Public Safety Act of 2005' into law on February 8th, it had a provision to allow low-power stations, including Class A stations, to continue broadcasting in analog format after February 17, 2009, subject to future decisions by the FCC on how to handle the digital television transition for those stations.

But it turns out that the budget bill that the President signed might not be valid. According to the Committee on Government Reform Minority Office, several constitutional law experts contend that the budget bill the President signed on February 8, 2006, is "not constitutionally permissible" and "is not law." In a letter from the Committee's Rep. Henry Waxman to the Democratic Leader, Rep. Waxman includes expert analyses he has gathered about the bill, which did not pass the House and Senate in identical form and therefore violates the Bicameral Clause of the U.S. Constitution.

Because of a clerk's mistake, the two houses passed different versions of the bill. Though aware of the disparity, House Speaker Dennis Hastert and President pro tem of the Senate Ted Stevens signed a statement attesting that the legislation had been passed by both the Senate and the House and transmitted the bill to the President. Democratic Leader Pelosi includes Rep. Waxman's letter in her appeal to the Speaker to bring the bill back before the Congress for a fair and constitutional legislative process.

And those set-top box subsidies? Don't think you'll be able to use your coupons to help you pay for a really cool set-top box. The law, as written, seems to indicate that if a set-top box has anything but an NTSC RF output, it cannot be subsidized.

To see the law, visit tinyurl.com/ay3kl all lower case.

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