Last updated: April 15, 2008 - 2:40pm
The House of Representatives on Monday approved legislation to complete the country's transition to new, higher-quality digital television by February 17, 2009. Under a deal negotiated by Republicans in the Senate and House, a $1.5 billion fund would be created to help some consumers buy converter boxes so existing analog television signals do not go dark when the transition is finished. Congress is eager for broadcasters to give up the analog airwaves, some of which will be auctioned for commercial wireless service, a sale that could bring in billions of dollars which could plug the government budget deficit.
* See House vote on S. 1932 (passed 212-206) at:
GOP Leaders Agree to $41.6 Billion Spending Cut
Rushing to get out of town for the holidays, House and Senate GOP leaders agreed yesterday to a five-year budget plan for cutting spending for Medicaid and other entitlement programs by $41.6 billion. The legislation will also set a hard date for the end of analog TV broadcasting in the US and provide subsidies for digital to analog converter boxes for US consumers. The House moved toward early-morning votes on the bill. The pre-dawn showdown would hide the House votes from public view, a maneuver that leaders have used all year on difficult votes. Republican leaders hailed the agreements as proof that they were finally getting a handle on the federal budget after a five-year binge of new spending and tax cuts that turned record budget surpluses into a stream of massive deficits. The budget accord would cut less than one-half of 1 percent from a projected $14.3 trillion in federal spending over the next five years. Depending on the outcome of negotiations over as much as $60 billion in tax cuts, the savings in spending could vanish.
* Congressional Leaders Agree to $42 Billion in Budget Cuts
* Leaders in Congress OK Cuts to Budget
REPUBLICAN SENATORS PUSH THEIR DTV BILL
Five Senate Republicans, four on the Senate Commerce Committee, have written committee Chairman Ted Stevens (R-Alaska) to urge him to stick with that committee's version of the DTV transition bill when he conferences with the House Commerce Committee leadership on a reconciled bill. Due to Senate rules preventing legislating on appropriations bills, the Senate version is a stripped-down bill that deals only with the setting of a hard date and the setting up of a funding mechanism to pay for digital converter boxes for viewers with analog sets that would otherwise not work after the transition. Sens George Allen (R-VA), Olympia Snowe (R-Maine), Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX), Gordon Smith (R-OR) and Norm Coleman (R-MN) don't want the bill that returns from conference to include "extraneous" DTV-related provisions, including one that would allow cable to convert its signal from HDTV to standard DTV or digital to analog. "Complicated policy issues such as these merit extensive review in committee. We urge you to oppose additional digital television provisions beyond the hard date," they wrote.
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* Letter to Sen Stevens and Senate Republican Leadership
* Diverse Group of High-Tech Leaders Urge Lawmakers To Finalize DTV Legislation: Leading Trade Associations, Consumer Groups Call On Congress To Push 'Hard Date' Across Finish Line
* See a comparison of the House and Senate bills at:
- House Passes Compromise DTV Bill
- House, Senate Panels At Odds On Converter Box Subsidies
- H.R.__ Digital Television Transition Act of 2005
- House Passes DTV Bill
- Limits proposed on digital TV converter coupons
- Senate Approves Digital Television Transition Plan
- Markey Expects 'Hard' DTV Date To Move
- Ensign Amendment Would Cut Box Subsidy
- S.__ Digital Transition and Public Safety Act of 2005
- House Commerce Approves DTV Bill
- Stevens Seeking Consensus on DTV Bill That Avoids 'Byrd Rule'
- DTV Bill Gets New Life with Oct. 26 Reconciliation Deadline
- The Digital Television Transition and Public Safety Act
- House DTV Subsidy Slammed
- U.S. Sends Signal on Value of Television