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Bill Would Require Stations to Air Digital Transition Spots

Jun 12, 2006  •  Post A Comment

All commercial TV stations would be required to air two 30-second spots every day to promote the Feb. 17, 2009, deadline for the transition to digital television over the three months leading up to the switch, under a provision buried in a 151-page Senate bill released Monday.

The DTV provision, part of a bill aimed at making it easier for phone companies to roll out pay TV services, would also clear the way for the Federal Communications Commission to dictate when the spots must be aired.

A similar provision was stripped out of legislation establishing the 2009 transition deadline earlier this year, after the measure came under fire for infringing on industry First Amendment rights.

The original provision would have required broadcasters to air two 60-second DTV spots for a full year, time valued at more than $5 billion.

Yet another provision tucked into the Senate bill, sponsored by Sen. Ted Stevens, R-Alaska, would gut Government in the Sunshine Act provisions that bar more than two of the Federal Communications Commission’s commissioners from meeting secretly to discuss agency business.

The legislation, which is slated for hearings before the Senate Commerce Committee Tuesday, includes a variety of provisions intended to ease concerns of local governmental authorities about losing power as lawmakers move to reform the nation’s existing cable TV franchising system.