US Broadcasters Oppose Planned Digital Bill

22 September 2004

A bill to ensure American consumers can still watch television once it is aired only in digital has been slighted by broadcasters as inadequate.

The legislation, proposed by Senate Commerce Committee chairman John McCain, calls for analogue switch off by 2009 and offers up to $1 billion (€816m; £557m) of financial aid for consumers to upgrade their equipment to digital.

Particularly for low-income households, the money would enable cable or satellite to be installed or provide a service to convert the digital signal into one that can be viewed using a traditional television set.

Currently, broadcasters are required to switch to digital when 85% of the nation can receive the signals. But with over 70 million traditional television sets in the country -- and their digital counterparts more expensive -- the National Association of Broadcasters believes this to be a tall order.

It is concerned that millions of US citizens would lose access to TV stations should the bill become law.

Data sourced from: LA Times; additional content by WARC staff