News

Upton Planning DTV Hearing

9/06/2001 10:51 AM Eastern

A House subcommittee is planning a hearing Sept. 12 on broadcasters'
transition to digital TV and proposals to speed their return of analog spectrum
to the federal government.

Rep. Fred Upton (R-Mich.) will oversee the hearing as chairman of the House
Telecommunications and the Internet Subcommittee. No witness list was available
Thursday afternoon.

By next May, all 1,304 commercial TV stations are required to be sending
digital signals under Federal Communications Commission rules established in
1997.

According to the National Association of Broadcasters, 206 stations are
currently beaming digital television. Based on a recent survey, the NAB said
about one-third of stations will miss the May deadline, causing the trade group
to ask the FCC to establish a simple waiver process for the late stations.

TV stations are required to return their analog signals to the FCC in 2006,
but only if 85 percent or more TV households in a market have the equipment to
view off-air digital-TV signals -- a penetration test that could put off the
analog return for many years.

With wireless companies hungry for more spectrum and Congress looking to fill
budget holes with spectrum-auction revenue, the functioning of broadcasters'
transition to digital has been at the top of the policy agenda for some
time.

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