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DTV: The Wheels Grind On

DTV: The Wheels Grind On

After a year of saying it wanted to establish an end to analog TV transmissions, Congress reduced reams of proposed legislation to a statement that amounted to a resolution. Included in the Intelligence Reform bill passed by Congress at press time, DTV legislation was summed up in a “Sense of Congress” resolution that Dec. 31, 2006 would be a good analog deadline. A resolution is not enforceable.
Sen. Conrad Burns, R-Mont., derailed the proposed analog deadline in the early Intel bill. Rep. Eliot Engel, D-N.Y., endeared himself to NAB President/CEO Eddie Fritts by saying the day Congress shuts off analog TV signals is the day before every lawmaker in Washington, D.C. is impeached.
Those who favor a 2006 deadline in the 109th Congress will be led by House Commerce Committee Chairman Joe Barton, R-Texas.
More than 70 million TV sets would go dark if Congress pulled the analog plug today, according to NAB spokesman Dennis Wharton, quoted Friday on NPR’s Marketplace Morning Report. But we need that spectrum for new wireless electronic products, replied CEA chief Gary Shapiro in the report.
Wireless electronic products are the subject of an FCC Notice of Proposed Rulemaking that has broadcasters upset. Docket 04-186 seeks to allow unlicensed wireless devices to operate in the cushion of spectrum between TV channels that prevents interference.
The end of the projected two-year process, when all stations are transmitting at maximum power, is the time to start talking unlicensed devices, not now, broadcasters say. Broadcast engineers are making filings at the FCC demonstrating potential interference from unlicensed devices, but Commission Chairman Michael Powell has stated that he would like to unleash unlicensed devices the channels before his departure.
Powell has pushed an analog deadline vote within the agency into next year, possibly March, according to reports.

(from TV Technology)