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House Still Plans Mark-Up On DTV BIll

At press time, the House Energy & Commerce Committee was still planning to mark up a bill next week to move the DTV transition date from Feb. 17 to June 12.

While the Barack Obama transition team had sent a letter to House Energy & Commerce Committee Chairman Henry Waxman (D-Calif.), saying it urged passage of a simpler Senate version of the bill, a spokeswoman for Waxman said that the plan was still to hold a 1:30 markup on Jan. 21, where committee members can amend and discuss the bill before voting on it.

She did not say what would happen if a Senate bill were approved Friday and sent over to the House. "We will cross that bridge when we come to it," she said. "It is too early to tell."

The Senate bill was being fast-tracked for approval, perhaps as soon as Friday if author Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.), Senate Commerce Committee chairman, had his way. But there are ongoing discussions about the House bill, including how to accommodate first responders, who are getting some of the reclaimed analog TV spectrum for emergency communications.

Language addressing that concern was absent from a discussion draft of the Waxman bill circulating around town Friday, but a committee staffer said there were active discussions about that issue and the language could be added before the mark-up.

The House bill would try to unclog the backlog of DTV-to-analog converter box coupons, including requiring the government to mail them out First Class rather than bulk rate, and would require the FCC to try to help companies, including Verizon, get access to the reclaimed analog TV spectrum.

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.