APTS members could give up analog spectrum by 2007 under right conditions

A survey taken in February of the Association of Public Television Stations revealed that 86 percent said they did not expect to be able to cease analog transmission by 2009 “under any circumstances.”

That and other eye-opening assertions were part of association president and CEO John Lawson’s pitch to Congress in late July regarding the transition from analog to digital transmission.

Speaking to the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s Subcommittee on Telecommunications and the Internet, Lawson recalled the overwhelming difficulty analog switch-off presented for many KCSM-TV viewers in Silicon Valley.

"When KCSM went digital-only, it launched a thorough viewer information campaign. Despite their efforts, though, many of their over-the-air consumers, especially elderly ones, were stranded," he said.

The station was inundated with thousands of telephone calls, e-mails and letters from viewers who were unable to understand why they could no longer receive the signal.

"I know the committee is examining a hard date for analog switch off. But imposing a hard date without first resolving the fate of carriage rights and over-the-air analog consumers is a recipe for disaster," he said.

A large percentage of APTS member stations responding to the same survey said they could voluntarily give up their analog spectrum by 2007 under three conditions. Eighty-one percent said they could relinquish analog spectrum if they were guaranteed cable carriage, low-cost converter boxes were available, and a limited trust fund was established to produce content, Lawson said.

"Since public stations hold 21 percent of all U.S. TV spectrum, this presents a clear roadmap to Congress for freeing up a lot of spectrum early."

For more information, please visit: www.apts.org.

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