December 31, 2006: The Day Analog TV Died?

Lawmakers want original December 31, 2006 date as hard analog shut-off date, regardless of 85% rule.
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U.S. House Commerce Committee Chairman Joe Barton is at it again when he said on Tuesday he plans to introduce legislation in the coming weeks to complete the transition to digital television by the end of 2006, without regard to DTV viewership.

"We have some draft principles. What we haven't done is finalize our discussions with the Democrats," Barton, a Texas Republican, told reporters after speaking to the Consumer Electronics Association summit on digital television.

While Barton has said "everybody involved in the issue wants certainty except for the broadcasters," it seems that one group may night want the certainty of a hard analog kill date: the folks who currently get their TV from over-the-air analog.

To be fair, Barton has also said he wants a subsidy program to help the estimated 8 to 10 million households that are below the poverty line. The cost could be as high as $500 million and would come from analog spectrum revenues

Sen. John McCain, who has always pushed for stations to complete the switch, would likely introduce companion legislation in the Senate that would mirror the House.