Stevens: $3B for Set-Tops


Senate Commerce Committee chairman Ted Stevens (R-Alaska) said Wednesday that he has amended draft digital-TV legislation to include a maximum $3 billion in taxpayer funds to subsidize set-top boxes.

The bill, scheduled for a vote Thursday afternoon by the committee, would require TV stations to terminate analog transmission April 7, 2009. Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) is planning to offer an amendment moving the date to late 2006 or early 2007.

Stevens said the $3 billion would help to fund a digital-to-analog converter for every analog-TV set in the country, not just one box each for the 20 million homes that rely exclusively on free, over-the-air broadcasting.

Stevens was unable to change the draft to include a $10 co-payment for each set-top.