Boucher To Introduce DTV Antenna Subsidy Bill

Similar to bill proposed by Benie Sanders (I-VT) in the last Congress
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Rep. Rick Boucher (D-VA), long concerned about the need for more rooftop antennas in a world of digital-only full-power TV, says he is prepping his own DTV antenna subsidy bill to address what he calls a "looming problem."

It is similar to a bill proposed by Bernie Sanders (I-VT) in the last Congress and expected to be introduced in the new one not long after that new Congress is sworn in Tuesday (Jan. 6). Boucher says he supports that bill, though he says it may need more money than the $80 per over-the-air-only househbold Sanders is proposing.

His own version may shape up in the next two or three days.

Sanders and Boucher both want to subsidize rooftop antennas, just as the government does with DTV-to-analog converter boxes, arguing that a lot of people who could get by with rabbit ears for analog service will need the antennas to get a digital picture.

Boucher, whose district includes rural viewers in mountainous areas and without access to cable, says he does not think funding a baseline, basic-cable service of TV station signals only, as Sanders bill would also do, is necessarily the answer, but says that provision may be part of his bill, too.

Boucher says some sort of government assistance for antennas is needed, as well as funding for technical assistance. "There is going to be a vast need for technical assistance for people to get their converter boxes installed and, once they are installed, scan and load the channels and test the converter box to be sure it is getting digital signals," he says, "and if if it is not, determine whether or not some sort of antenna adjustment needs to occur."

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