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More Reps. Pan Powell Plan

A Federal Communications Commission plan to accelerate the digital-TV transition would "force premature cessation of analog transmission" and deny broadcast digital services to cable viewers, three House members told agency chairman Michael Powell.

"This proposal would betray the long-held congressional goal of bringing the next generation of television to the American consumer," wrote Reps. Charlie Norwood, R-Ga.; Richard Burr, R-N.C.; and Lee Terry, R-Neb.

Aides to Powell are drafting a plan that would rapidly accelerate the date when broadcasters must return analog channels to the government.

By counting broadcast digital channels that cable companies have converted to analog signals toward the DTV penetration test, the FCC would be able to reclaim analog spectrum as early as 2007 rather than the anticipated 2010 or later.Government rules require stations to give back analog channels if 85% of TV homes in the market have digital service.