This month's issue of Broadcast Engineering provides readers with a truly unique and important article regarding our industry. For years now, stations have struggled with the imposing deadline of 2006, when their NTSC transmitters must be turned off and the spectrum surrendered. Consumers are facing the same deadline — they just don't know it yet.
In both cases, the issue hasn't been that digital TV isn't a “good thing.” Rather, it's been that “it's too expensive.” The issue all along has been how to pay for it.
Way back in 1997 this magazine suggested that some form of governmental support was needed to help broadcasters make the transition to DTV. We now have a specific solution to offer.
Let me ask you a question. If I could show you a way to spend $1,000,000 on DTV equipment and effectively get “paid back” $1,500,000, would you be interested? I'm not talking about sleight of hand. No monkey business or financial mumbo-jumbo. Hard cash, the kind you can take to the bank, invest or return to shareholders. Now are you interested?
In this month's article Paying for DTV, consultant Don Stendal describes in detail his plan, which would allow stations to build their digital facilities knowing that they'll get an immediate return on their investment in the form of a tax credit. A tax credit that not only carries forward, but also backward. If you've already built your DTV facilities, you get the same benefit as the station that's just getting started. This plan is so unique, flexible and innovative, that even if your station is strapped for cash, you'd be able to use the proposed tax credits to obtain loans to begin the process.
Even noncommercial stations benefit. They could sell their (in effect) tax credits to commercial stations. Those stations could bid for the extra credits, using them to build their own facilities, simultaneously creating revenue for the noncommercial stations.
But that's only one-half of the solution. How about the viewers? How can we help them also invest in DTV? Under Stendal's program, consumers also could apply for a tax credit based on their investment in DTV products. Television sets, STBs, even antennas could qualify as legitimate DTV reception equipment. Dollar-for-dollar expenses would then be used as a tax credit on the individual's tax return.
The plan's description begins on page 72. Read it. Then log onto the Broadcast Engineering website at www.broadcastengineering.com and register your vote for the plan.
Then contact your Congressional representative and express your support for the DTV funding plan. Full contact information is provided on the website. Help support this innovative plan. First vote at the Broadcast Engineering website. Second, contact your elected representatives. Be a part of the DTV solution by supporting the Make the Switch by 2006 program. We'll all benefit.