DTV Bill To Be Considered Under Closed Rule

There will be one hour of debate, evenly divided among Democrats and Republicans, and no floor amendments when the House considers the bill to move the DTV date from Feb. 17 to June 12,

That was the decision of the House Rules Committee, essentially granting the ground rules proposed by House Energy & Commerce Committee Chairman Henry Waxman (D-CA), who had asked the bill be brought up under the so-called “closed rule,” which prevents the proposal of and votes on amendments that could greatly slow the process.

By a vote of 7 to 2, the committee defeated an amendment that would have attempted to clear the DTV-to-analog converter box coupon waiting list without moving the date. The amendment, the handiwork of ranking Energy & Commerce Republican and date-change opponent Joe Barton (R-TX), would have freed up $250 million for coupons by making an accounting change.

The committee also defeated by the same margin an amendment, offered by Rep. Greg Walden (R-OR), a former broadaster, which would have prohibited the FCC from preventing a broadcaster from transitioning early so long as "they will not cause unacceptable interference with public safety or other broadcast stations, and the station has given viewers notice in the 30 days."

The bill actually already allows stations to transition early, but does make that subject to an FCC decision that it is OK to do so.

It is expected to be debated on the House floor Wednesday afternoon, with the kids health insurance bill likely debated in the morning.

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.