White House Against $1B Set-Top Subsidy


The White House is opposed to a plan to use $1 billion to subsidize digital converters and cable connections for consumers who can’t afford equipment to translate digital-TV signals for viewing on analog-TV sets.

The Bush administration said it opposed the subsidy in an Oct. 18 letter to two members of Congress signed by national security adviser Condoleezza Rice and Office of Management and Budget director Joshua Bolton.

The funding was included in legislation to implement recommendations of the 9/11 Commission on clearing some analog-broadcast spectrum for use by public-safety entities responding to disasters.

“Creating a $1 billion fund to subsidize consumer electronics such as digital converter boxes, high-definition televisions and the installation of cable and satellite services is not necessary to achieve the 9/11 Commission’s recommendations,” the White House advisers wrote.

Instead, Rice and Bolton supported a White House budget proposal that would impose a tax on analog broadcasters to encourage a faster digital-TV transition.

“This proposal would facilitate public-safety access to spectrum in a timely fashion without generating budgetary costs,” Rice and Bolton said.

Congress has repeatedly rejected analog-TV-tax proposals.