Cable may be there in a matter of months, but the NAB has put up a fight to prevent setting a hard deadline for the return of their member broadcast stations’ analog television spectrum to the government. The current law states that the transition to digital should come in 2006, or once 85 percent of American households have TVs that can receive digital signals.
The FCC and many members of Congress, have been trying to close that 85 percent loophole — though so far unsuccessfully. The battle will surely continue after the election.
Rick Chessen, head of the FCC’s digital task force, said the statutes will most likely require an extension beyond 2006. He said the commission would like to see it happen as soon as possible, “but we think 2009 is a more reasonable date to be shooting for.”
Many expect a policy change to happen in the next session of Congress. In the meantime, the FCC has adopted an unofficial target date of Jan. 1, 2009, for the transition, reports Knight Ridder Newspapers.
FCC chairman Michael Powell told the Senate Commerce Committee in September that having a deadline of 2009 will add millions more digital sets to the marketplace before analog signals are turned off.