Digital Television Transition and Public Safety Act

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The Digital Television Transition and Public Safety Act (Govtrack) was the culmination of a multi-year effort to drive broadcasters from some of the choicest frequencies in the airwaves to make room for advanced wireless broadband services. As broadcasters were the first to make use of those frequencies, it became nearly impossible to dislodge them, even in the face of new technologies. [1] Signed into law by President Bush Feb. 8, 2006, the legislation established a hard date -- Feb. 17, 2009 -- for broadcasters to cease analog television transmissions and transition to digital technology. Congress gave the FCC authority to terminate analog licenses for full-power television stations and reclaim the spectrum for public safety and commercial wireless broadband services. By the end of the transition, all digital television transmissions will be in the spectrum currently occupied by TV channels 2 through 51 -- the "core" TV broadcast spectrum. Meanwhile, television channels 52 through 69 in the 700 MHz band of spectrum will be cleared for wireless communications.

Main article: Digital television
Main article: Spectrum

The DTV Act established two specific statutory deadlines for the commercial auction of the 60 MHz of "recovered analog" spectrum: (1) the auction must begin no later than Jan. 28, 2008, and (2) the auction proceeds must be deposited in the Digital Television Transition and Public Safety Fund by June 30, 2008. [2] The legislation also appropriated more than $1 billion to assist public safety agencies develop and deploy interoperable emergency communications systems, and up to $1.5 billion to help analog television owners purchase digital-to-analog converter boxes so they can continue to watch TV after the Feb. 17, 2009, deadline.

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Sources

  1. Drew Clark, Spectrum Wars, National Journal, February 18, 2005.
  2. Reporter and Order and Notice of Proposed Rulemaking 07-72 Federal Communications Commission, Released April 27, 2007.

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