Senators Support Funds to Fill DTV Gaps

April 28, 2009
Maine Republican Senators Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins have introduced legislation to help broadcasters acquire additional DTV transmission gear to fill gaps in broadcast coverage in rural areas of the United States.

The “DTV Cliff Effect Assistance Act” would provide $125 million to broadcasters, primarily in rural areas to purchase digital translators that would boost DTV reception. The estimated cost for construction of digital repeaters or translator towers run approximately $80,000-$100,000 each to build. The FCC last year approved the use of digital repeaters for such use.

“Delaying the conversion to digital television until June 12th has afforded families and seniors additional time to prepare for the digital update and ensure a smooth and easy transition for their home television equipment. However, there are still several geographic areas in Maine and throughout the nation that will have a weak digital signal or no signal at all, posing a real threat to the access of digital television,” said Senator Snowe, a senior member of the Senate Commerce Committee, which has jurisdiction over the issue. “By providing critical funding for the construction of digital broadcast towers, this legislation will close gaps in the digital coverage of full-power stations and ensure the upcoming transition is as seamless as possible for all Americans, regardless of where they live.”

David Donovan, president of the Association for Maximum Service Television, praised the proposed legislation.

"The legislation will clearly help rural communities," Donovan said. "Many community owned translators do not have the financial resources to make the transition. This legislation will help these translators maintain their current service areas, thereby insuring rural viewers continue to have access to free, over-the-air digital television.”

As an ardent supporter of the Universal Service Fund, Snowe, in particular, has been a strong advocate for providing federal assistance to expand technology to rural areas.

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