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Senate Rejects McCain DTV Proposal

Washington, DC--The Senate Commerce Committee has voted to reject Senator John McCain's proposal to set a 2009 deadline for the digital TV transition. Senator McCain, the U.S. Senate Commerce Committee Chairman, recently proposed a measure that would require broadcasters to air only digital television signals by 2009 and help consumers who rely on traditional television sets buy a device that would convert digital back into a format that they could watch.
Under the proposed measure the $1 billion would have come from the proceeds of the auctioning of analog spectrum by the government. Under the current law, broadcasters must give their analog spectrum back to the government by 2007, or when 85% of the nation can receive the new digital signals, whichever comes later.
Although many stations already broadcast both digital and analog signals, less then 1% of Americans own digital TV sets. Under the proposal by McCain consumers who do not have a digital television set would have been able to receive aid for the installation of a pay television service that would either offer them the new signals or a converted signal they could see. The draft legislation would have given priority for the subsidies to those households that rely solely on over-the-air television, particularly lower-income homes.