Capps Introduces Analog-Nightlight Bill

SAFER Act would allow broadcasters to air DTV-education message after switchover.

Rep. Lois Capps (D-Calif.) introduced a bill that would allow broadcasters to continue to air a digital-TV-education message or, if need be, emergency information for two weeks after the switch to DTV transmissions Feb. 17, 2009.

As reported in B&C, the idea has support from some broadcasters and at the Federal Communications Commission. It might not be feasible for some broadcasters that have to cut off analog early to move their transmitters.

Under the SAFER Act (the Short-Term Analog Flash and Emergency Readiness Act), a slide in both English and Spanish would continue to air in analog for two weeks, providing a phone number for more information on how to prepare for the DTV transition.

“It’s important that we switch to DTV, but we also have to make sure that no one gets left behind,” Capps said in announcing the bill. “The results of the recent test transition in Wilmington, N.C., demonstrated that up to 1.5 million households could find that their TVs don’t work on Feb. 18 and that these problems will likely be concentrated among minorities and senior citizens. Since government is requiring this change, we should also be doing everything we can to make sure it is as least disruptive as possible. This common-sense bill will help to ensure that no one is left behind by the DTV transition.”