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Senate Approves April 2009 DTV Deadline Date, $3B Subsidy

Nov 4, 2005  •  Post A Comment

Legislation approved by the Senate late Thursday evening would require broadcasters to make the switch to digital TV by April 7, 2009, and earmarks $3 billion to subsidize digital-to-analog converters for analog-only TV sets.

The DTV measures, recently approved by the Senate Commerce Committee, are included in a massive budget bill that was approved in a 52-47 Senate vote Thursday night. Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., tried to amend the legislation to force broadcasters to make the DTV switch by April 7, 2008, a full year earlier. But in the wake of opposition from Sen. Ted Stevens, R-Alaska, and the National Association of Broadcasters, the Senate rejected Sen. McCain’s amendment 69-30. Apparently realizing that he didn’t have support, Sen. John Ensign, R-Nev., withdrew-without a vote-his proposed amendment to cut the set-top box subsidy back to $1 billion.

In a statement, Eddie Fritts, NAB president and CEO, said the defeat of Sen. McCain’s amendment was a “victory for millions of Americans who could have been left stranded by a premature end to analog television service.”