Members of Congress are pushing to bring broadcasters’ analog-to-digital transition to an end. Included as part of legislation overhauling the national intelligence establishment, which passed both houses last week, was a Sense of Congress resolution asking broadcasters to vacate and return their analog spectrum.
The non-binding resolution came only after broadcast industry lobbyists once again held back lawmakers who wanted to force stations to vacate TV channels 63, 64, 68 and 69 by 2008 for public safety uses. The resolution asked broadcasters to begin digital transmissions and return a portion of the analog spectrum as early as Dec. 31, 2006.
Rep. Joe Barton, (R-TX), chairman of the House Commerce Committee, wrote the resolution. He and Sen. John McCain, (R-AZ), who chairs the Senate Commerce Committee, are strong proponents of setting a hard deadline for ending the DTV transition. Both are expected to make a deadline for the return of spectrum a major issue of the next Congress.
The measure passed the Senate 89-2, while the House voted 336-75 for approval.