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DTV Delay Bill, Coupon Funding Introduced

As discussed in last week's RF Report, there is an effort underway to delay the DTV transition until May or June as President-elect. In addition to the Obama’s transition team's proposed delay, Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., introduced a bill postpone the transition date to June 12.

Also, a proposed stimulus package included $650 million for new DTV converter box coupons. This could be taken as a sign the analog shutoff will be delayed, as people wouldn't receive the coupons until after Feb. 17.

The coupons are being distributed by the Department of Commerce's National Telecommunications and Information Administration. Current Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez said the analog shutoff shouldn't be delayed, and the Bush administration was looking for $250 million immediately for coupons.

Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., also supports delaying the shutdown, as do groups including Consumers Union, AARP and the Home Theater Specialist of America.

The Consumer Electronics Association and four leading public safety organizations—APCO (Association of Public-Safety Communications Officials-International), IACP (International Association of Chiefs of Police), IAFC (International Association of Fire Chiefs) and NPTSC (National Public Safety Telecommunications Council—oppose the delay.

The groups want assurance that any delay in the analog shutdown will not postpone their access to the new 700 MHz public safety spectrum.

As previously discussed in RF Report, excluding out of core channels from the extension would be difficult, as these channels are currently being used by many DTV stations that would be unable to move to their final in-core DTV channel until analog TV is shut off. This could result in many analog stations being unable to continue broadcasting because their channel was needed for another station's final DTV channel.

Wireless carriers Verizon and AT&T took opposing views on the delay. AT&T supports the delay, while Verizon opposes it.

With little more than a month to go before full power analog TV broadcasting is scheduled to end, TV broadcasters are continuing to plan for the Feb. 17 shutdown at 11:59:59 p.m. while tallying the costs of and making contingency plans for a possible delay.

Read all of RF Reporthere.

Doug Lung is one of America's foremost authorities on broadcast RF technology. He has been with NBC since 1985 and is currently vice president of broadcast technology for NBC/Telemundo stations.