House focuses on late 2008 for analog switchoff

June 8, 2005

House Commerce Committee Chairman Joe Barton (R-TX) and other lawmakers agreed to Dec. 31, 2008, as the probable date for shutting off analog television transmissions to complete the transition to digital during a meeting last week.

In September, Barton said he would attach an amendment to the budget reconciliation bill to set a date certain for completing the transition.

While setting a date certain is an important step, it’s only one of many needed to bring the transition to a successful completion, and it appeared that as of last week, lawmakers had not yet agreed on anything else.

Although many members from both sides of the aisle agreed that a government subsidy for a digital-to-analog converter was important, they disagreed over the scope of any such program. Most Republicans favored limiting the subsidy to poor families, while Democrats favored a subsidy for all 21 million TV households that do not subscribe to satellite or cable.

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