Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) offered an amendment Wednesday designed to end analog television April 7, 2008, one year sooner than the cutoff date approved by the Senate Commerce Committee two weeks ago.
McCain -- who unveiled his amendment on the Senate floor during debate on a budget bill -- said he supported 2008 because it would expedite the transfer of analog-TV spectrum to first-responder groups that have complained of wireless-communications problems at crisis locations.
In his floor comments, McCain lashed out at the National Association of Broadcasters, saying that he was “sick and tired” that the trade group continued to put the interests of “television viewers” ahead of the lives of first responders.
Senate Commerce Committee chairman Ted Stevens (R-Alaska) -- who supports April 7, 2009, as the analog cutoff -- said McCain’s 2008 hard date was inappropriate because it would not fit the bill’s schedule for analog-TV-spectrum auctions, which will generate the revenue to provide $3 billion for set-top-box subsidies.
“It will destroy the process we are in. I urge the Senate not to adopt it,” Stevens said.
McCain offered an amendment in committee that called for an April 7, 2007, analog deadline, but he lost in a 17-5 vote.
The Senate is expected to vote on McCain's amendment Thursday or Friday. Sen. John Ensign (R-Nev.) was expected to offer an amendment trimming set-top subsidies from $3 billion to $1 billion or less.