The U.S. Senate voted to require television broadcasters to end analog transmissions and switch to digital signals by Feb. 17, 2009, reports the Associated Press on Yahoo News.
The House of Representative is expected to approve the bill, and President Bush praised the Senate vote.
Besides improving TV picture and sound quality, the move to all-digital transmission will free valuable parts of the radio spectrum. The government would auction a portion of the newly available spectrum for an estimated $10 billion.
The chosen switchover date was a compromise. The House had initially proposed Dec. 31, 2008, the Senate April 7, 2009.
The bill would allocate as much as $1.5 billion to subsidize converter boxes so that people with older, analog-only TV sets would not lose their signals. But consumer advocates say that is not nearly enough money. “We think this is unfair, unworkable and unacceptable. It virtually ensures that on Feb. 18, 2009, tens of millions of televisions go black,” Jeannine Kenney, senior policy analyst with Consumers Union, the publisher of Consumer Reports magazine, was reported as saying.
By Edward Prewitt