President Bush signed legislation Wednesday that cuts off over-the-air analog broadcasting Feb. 17, 2009, and includes up to $1.5 billion to help fund converter boxes to prolong the useful life of millions of analog TV sets.
After the cutoff, the nation’s 1,749 full-power TV stations will be required to transmit only digital signals. The termination of analog broadcasting will free up 60 megahertz of spectrum that will be auctioned to wireless-broadband providers. Congress is expecting auction revenue to reach $10 billion.
The analog-TV provisions were contained in the Deficit Reduction Act of 2005, which includes about $40 billion in budget cuts over the next five years.
“With today's enactment of the budget-reconciliation bill and its digital-television provisions, we have crossed an important threshold,” National Association of Broadcasters CEO David K. Rehr said in a prepared statement.
“NAB is pleased that Congress adopted many pro-consumer DTV measures in the legislation, and we're encouraged that the bill thwarted cable-industry attempts to degrade the quality of HDTV pictures to consumers,” he added.