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Senate Passes Intelligence Reform with DTV Component

The Senate on Wednesday passed 96-2 the National Intelligence Reform Act, which contains provisions for bumping broadcasters out of the 700 MHz public-safety band by the end of 2007. The bill would also require the labeling of analog-only sets by Sept. 30, 2005, and would impel the FCC to issue a rulemaking on DTV public-interest obligations and must-carry before the end of this year.

The House was in the midst of debating its own intel-reform legislation--the 9/11 Recommendations Implementation Act--at presstime. The House bill includes no DTV end-game provisions.

Observers note that the DTV portion of the final legislation will reflect whatever Senate Commerce Committee Chairman John McCain and House Commerce Committee Chairman Joe Barton can hammer out in conference.

Should the provisions in the Senate bill survive conference, 75 full-power stations will have to end analog operations by Dec. 31, 2006, and more than 700 translators and satellite stations will be affected.