Barton Keynotes MSTV Conference

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House Commerce Committee Chairman Joe Barton will keynote MSTV's annual digital television conference.

Barton is expected to shed light on his plans for speeding the DTV transition. He is the House point man on any congressional action needed to fulfill FCC Chairman Michael Powell's plan to take back analog spectrum no later than 2009.

Barton has said he'd like the takeback to happen sooner, perhaps by 2006. Whether the date is 2009 or sooner, Congress must decide whether to pass a related piece of legislation that would authorize a government subsidy to pay for converter boxes needed to keep old analog sets working after the switch to all-DTV.

Not only must Congress decide whether there should be any subsidy at all, it must choose whether to give help only to people too poor to buy TV or for all Americans' analog sets.

The MSTV conference also will feature telecom equipment makers explaining their plans for new wireless devices the FCC wants to squeeze in vacant spots between TV channels. 

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