No Border War at Senate Commerce Committee

With only minor modifications, a bill to allow full-power TV stations along the border with Mexico to continue to broadcast in analog after the switch to digital passed the Senate Commerce Committee Thursday.

That fix would allow public-safety organizations to apply for waivers of the law even before it becomes a law.

The DTV Border Fix Act, which was co-sponsored by Sens. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas) and Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), would allow qualified TV stations within 50 miles of the border to broadcast in analog until 2014.

The bill has numerous caveats, including that the stations could not interfere with DTV stations, could not interfere with public-safety communications and could not prevent the auction of public spectrum.

The thinking behind it is to allow residents -- particularly Spanish-speaking residents -- along the border who are still receiving analog channels from Mexico and who will thus be slow to make the change to digital to still get local emergency alerts, news and weather from U.S stations, as well.

A similar bill was also introduced in the House.

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.