H.R.__ Digital Television Transition Act of 2005
(View committee print of the bill.)
* Sets December 31, 2008 as the end of analog television broadcasts in the US.
* Directs the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to assign all digital, full-power TV stations channels by December 31, 2006, resolve any reconsideration of same by July 31, 2007 and refrain from any further changes between July 31, 2007 and January 1, 2009.
* Asks the FCC for a report to Congress every 6 months between January 31, 2006 and July 31, 2007 on the status of international coordination with Canada and Mexico of the television service table of allotments.
* The FCC is to begin an auction of reclaimed spectrum currently used for analog TV no later than January 7, 2008.
* Nearly 1 billion dollars of the auction proceeds are to go to the Digital Television Conversion Fund. The rest of the proceeds are directed to the US Treasury.
* The National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) shall use the DTV Conversion Fund to administer a program to aid in the purchase of digital-to-analog converter boxes. Within 9 months of passage of this legislation, the NTIA is to issue the regulations that will be needed to carry out these provisions. The NTIA may spend up to 160 million dollars administering the converter box program. Every 3 months beginning March 31, 2008 and ending June 30, 2009, NTIA with a report to Congress on the progress of coupon distribution and redemption.
* US households may request two coupons that can be applied towards converter box purchases. The request must be made between January 1, 2008 and January 31, 2009; coupons expire March 31, 2009. Each coupon is worth 40 dollars; only one coupon can be used towards the purchase of each converter box.
* Requires television set manufacturers to include a warning label on analog TV sets sold in the US 180 days after enactment of the Act. Label is to read: "This television has only an analog broadcast tuner. After December 31, 2008, television broadcasters will broadcast only in digital format. You will then need to connect this television to a digital-to-analog converter box or cable or satellite service if you wish to receive broadcast programming. The device, if any, that a cable or satellite subscriber will need to connect to an analog television will depend on the cable or satellite service provider. The television should continue to work as before, however, with devices such as VCRs, digital video recorders, DVD players, and video game systems. For more information, call the Federal Communications Commission at 1â€“888â€“225â€“5322 (TTY: 1â€“888â€“835â€“5322) or visit the Commissionâ€™s website at: www.fcc.gov"
* Directs the FCC and NTIA, either separately or in concert, to engage in a public education program about the digital television transition. The agencies can seek the help of broadcasters, manufacturers, retailers, cable and satellite operators, and consumer groups in administering the program. The program is to educate consumers about: 1) the termination of analog television broadcasts, 2) the options consumers have for receiving broadcast programming after the transition (DTV sets and tuners, digital-to-analog converters, cable and satellite systems), and 3) the NTIA's converter box subsidy program.
* All television broadcasters are required to air 2 60-second public service announcements (PSAs) per day between January 1, 2008 and December 31, 2008 about the digital television transition. One PSA is to run between 8am-9am, the other between 8pm-9pm. Similarly, cable and satellite operators are to inform consumers about the digital television transition in billing statements.
* Beginning January 31, 2006 and ending July 31, 2008, the FCC and NTIA are to submit reports to Congress every six months on consumer education efforts.
* Within 30 days of the legislation becoming law, the FCC is to change its rules to require that all sets with screens sized 13-24" have digital television tuners by March 1, 2007.
* Allows cable operators to convert broadcaster's signals from digital to analog, at the headend or at the TV set, so long as the conversion does not "materially degrade" the signal. Requires cable systems (with capacity of more than 550 MHz) to transmit both a "standard definition" version of a must-carry broadcast signal and an analog version for the first five years, after which they must deliver a digital version of a station's signal. Standard definition means a digital TV signal that is comparable with today's analog TV signal, so the legislation requires no pass-though of high definition, digital signals (HDTV).
* Within one year, the FCC is to issue rules that put satellite operators on equal regulatory footing as cable operators.
* On November 18, by a 217-215 vote, the House approved legislation that would accelerate the transition to digital television by setting a firm date for that transition to end. The bill also aims to free up the nation's airwaves for public safety and new wireless services and raise $10 billion for the federal treasury. The bill now goes to conference where differences with the Senate version of the bill will be addressed.
* On November 16, 2005, House Commerce Chairman Joe Barton (R-TX) said that he and other committee leaders are contemplating alternate ways to pass digital television transition legislation if the so-called budget reconciliation bill to which it is attached falters. "We could split it out and move it as a stand-alone bill," Barton said of the DTV measure. â€œI think that is allowed.â€ In a brief interview following a speech to a telecommunications policy forum, Chairman Barton added, â€œWe could yet get an agreement in the broader budget reform package; that would be what more [lawmakers] would hope for."
* The House Commerce Committee will meet at 3:00 p.m. on Tuesday, October 25, 2005, for the exclusive purpose of allowing Members to make opening statements on this bill which is part of budget reconciliation measures. The Committee will reconvene at 10:00 a.m. on Wednesday, October 26, 2005, in 2123 Rayburn House Office Building to the Digital Television Transition Act of 2005.
House Commerce Committee Chairman Joe Barton (R-TX)
National Cable and Telecommunications Association: "...we are willing to accept the significant obligations that are now part of this proposed legislation. Specifically, our industry will accept the dual carriage obligation of limited duration in the bill."
Government Accountability Office
National Association of Broadcasters support 2009 cut off date.
Consumer Electronics Association
Association of Public-Safety Communications Officials
High Tech Coalition
Rep John Dingell (D-MI), ranking member of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, wrote in The Hill, "[A]lthough draft legislation put forward by my Republican colleagues offered no transition assistance for consumers, there now appears to be a growing appreciation of the need to assist consumers in this government-induced change. The bad news is that House Republicans, to protect their tax cuts, appear intent on limiting this assistance, forcing Americans to reach into their wallets to purchase equipment to keep their television sets working."
On October 28, Broadcasting&Cable reported that AARP is concerned the bill does not provide enough assistance for older Americans who rely upon over-the-air broadcasts.
Consumers Union: "The House Republican bill forces millions of consumers to shell out money to keep their perfectly good television sets working due to a government policy."