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Bill Would Let Stations on Mexico Border Continue Analog Broadcasts

Rep. Hilda Solis (D-Calif.) wants the Federal Communications Commission to allow U.S. TV stations on the border with Mexico to continue to broadcast in analog for five years after the Feb. 17, 2009, hard date for cutting off full-power analog broadcasts.

Solis introduced a bill to that effect, the DTV Border Fix Act, saying it was necessary so that residents along the border who are slow to make the change and still receiving analog channels from Mexico can still get local emergency alerts, news and weather from U.S stations.

Solis said those border households aren't generally cable or satellite subscribers and many use English as a second language. "Because of these challenges, these households are already difficult to educate about the DTV transition. With the added complication of ample analog Spanish-language programming originating in Mexico available in the border region after 2009, thousands of households in these border communities could be left behind in the DTV transition," the congresswoman's office explained in announcing the bill.

She added that the bill takes into account various scenarios in which the FCC would have to prohibit that continued analog broadcasting.

"The DTV Border Fix Act maintains the Federal Communications Commission’s ability to deny full-power stations in the impacted area the ability to simulcast in both analog and digital if it does not serve the public interest," her office said. "Stations allowed to simulcast may not cause interference with other full-power stations or public-safety communications. In addition, if continued analog broadcasting interferes with the recovery and auction of spectrum, the FCC can refuse to allow the station to continue broadcasting in analog."