House Democrats Want More DTV Money

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House Democrats are hoping to modify digital-television legislation Wednesday in an effort to boost funding for set-top boxes and interoperable equipment for first responders, a House staff member said Monday.

The House Energy and Commerce Committee is scheduled to vote Wednesday on a bill ending the digital-TV transition Dec. 31, 2008. It includes $830 million for set-top subsidies but no money for first-responder equipment.

The House staff member said committee Democrats would likely offer an amendment that would increase set-top funding to a level near the $3 billion included in a bill passed by the Senate Commerce Committee last Thursday. The staff member said Democrats also wanted the House bill to match the $1 billion in the Senate bill for interoperable equipment.

Democrats, the staff member added, also have problems with provisions that allow cable systems to downgrade HDTV signals of must-carry stations to standard-definition for the first five years.

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