Las Vegas - Federal Communications Commission chairman Michael Powell
on Tuesday warned TV broadcasters that political pressure is mounting for the
return of their analog spectrum, a move that would signify the end of their
transition to all-digital broadcasting.
Powell, addressing the National Association of Broadcasters convention, said
Congress is eager to reallocate the analog spectrum to other users - most
likely, public safety organizations and wireless companies - and won't tolerate
a prolonged DTV transition.
'You don't have that much political room. Let me tell you something: There is
not a comfortable political climate for this to go on unnecessarily long,'
Powell said at a breakfast session where he fielded questions from ABC
journalist Sam Donaldson. 'There are other constituencies waiting for spectrum.
Wireless issues have grown in their significance and their political
TV stations may retain both their analog and digital licenses until Dec. 31,
2006 or until 85 percent of TV households in a market can receive off-air DTV
signals, whichever is later. Powell is not alone in predicting that the
transition will extend well beyond 2006.
'That [85 percent penetration] is not going to happen probably by 2006,'
Powell said. 'The transition should take the right amount of time. But it should
not take one millisecond longer.'