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Senate draft sets analog switch-off for April 7, 2009

A draft of a Senate bill sets April 7, 2009, as the date for the end of analog television transmission, the National Journal reported.

The bill floated late last week does not address the highly contentious issue of digital multicast must-carry. Broadcasters have sought a government mandate requiring cable operators to carry all of their free multicast DTV channels, while cable operators have resisted.

This week Senate Commerce Committee chairman Ted Stevens (R-AK) and ranking member Daniel Inouye (D-HI) are expected to discuss companion legislation addressing DTV multicast must-carry, specifics of a program to subsidize analog-to-digital converter boxes, and cable HDTV downconversion.

The draft bill, which is expected to be offered as an amendment to the budget reconciliation act, also directs the FCC to auction off 60MHz of reclaimed analog TV frequency and allocate 24MHz of spectrum for public safety communications.

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