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McCain Introduces Save Lives Act of 2005

McCain Introduces Save Lives Act of 2005

Senator John McCain, R-Arizona, has introduced legislation that would speed up when TV broadcasters would turn over their analog spectrum after going digital so that the analog channels may be used for emergency communications. Called the “Spectrum Availability for Emergency-Response and Law-Enforcement to Improve Vital Emergency Services Act,” if enacted, the bill would required TV stations to turn over their analog spectrum to the government by Jan. 1, 2009, years sooner than currently required.
The measure would also authorize about $460 million to provide digital-to-analog converter boxes for an estimated 9.3 million over-the-air television households that cannot afford to buy a digital TV set.
McCain said access to this spectrum, specifically the 24 MHz of spectrum in the 700 MHz band, would be helpful to first responders as signals sent over these frequencies are able to penetrate walls, travel great distances, and assist multiple jurisdictions in deploying interoperable communications systems.
“Now is the time for Congressional action before another national emergency or crisis takes place,” said McCain referring to 9/11.
The bill would mandate warning labels be displayed on analog television sets sold prior to the transition and require warning language to be displayed at retailers. Brochures describing the DTV set options would have to be available at retailers. McCain also called on broadcasters to air informational programs to “better prepare” consumers for the digital transition.
“The 9-11 Commission’s Final Report contained stories about police officers and fire fighters who were inside the Twin Towers and unable to receive evacuation orders over their radios from commanders,” said McCain. “This inability to communicate was also a problem for public safety organizations responding at the Pentagon and Somerset County, Pennsylvania crash sites where multiple organizations and multiple jurisdictions responded. Therefore, the commission recommended that Congress accelerate the availability of more spectrum for public safety.”

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