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House Bill Backs June 12 DTV Date

June 12 is the choice on both sides of the aisle for a new DTV transition date, according to a draft of the House Commerce Committee version of a bill moving the DTV date.

A similar bill was introduced Thursday on the Senate side by Commerce Committee Chairman Jay Rockefeller (D-WVA).

The bill also has other new deadlines: Sept. 15 for converter box coupons and Feb. 15 for the FCC to come up with a way to permit bidders who won TV spectrum at auction to have access to it.

According to a draft of a bill introduced by House Energy & Commerce Chairman Henry Waxman (D-Calif.), the bill would change the DTV Transition and Public Safety Act of 2005 to insert the new date. It would also move the expiration date of any DTV-to-analog coupons that have expired to Sept. 15, 2009.

It would also include one replacement coupon per household for any coupons that had expired anytime during the life of the coupon program.

The coupons would have to be delivered by pre-sorted First Class mail rather than bulk mail, as has been the case.

The bill would not require broadcasters to remain in analog until June, which means that stations who were ready and did not want to continue to spend the money to keep two signals on would not have to.

The bill also tries to address the concerns of winning bidders, like Verizon, for reclaimed analog spectrum that will be used for advanced wireless services.

The FCC would have until Feeb. 15 to come up with a program to "encourage and permit" subject to "public interest limitations" the use of the upper 700 mHZ band by those bidders, including for experimentation and testing purposes.

Verizon has said it is ready to start testing it 4G wireless service on the channels it won, in hopes of rolling it out by the end of the year.

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.