DTV Nightlight Bill Becomes Law

Stations will be able to air emergency and educational information over analog past Feb. 17, 2009.
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It's official. TV stations who are able to will get an extra 30 days past the Feb. 17, 2009 DTV transition date to broadcast emergency and DTV education information on their analog channels.

The White House confirms that the president signed the DTV nightlight bill into law today, Dec. 23.

The bill, actually the Short-term Analog Flash and Emergency Readiness (or SAFER) act was proposed by Senator Jay Rockefeller (D-WVA) and Rep. Lois Capps (D-Calif). It passed both the Senate and House by unanimous consent.

Broadcasters who elect to broadcast the education messages will need to air them in both Spanish and English. They will also get any emergency weather or public safety information that airs on the digital signal.

It has several caveats. For one thing, it simply permits, rather than mandates, the analog grace period, and says stations could not stay on if they interfered with other stations or with emergency communications.

The FCC is directed by Jan. 15 to come up with a plan to implement the voluntary program.

Broadcasters pushed for the grace period, and FCC Chairman Kevin Martin has said he thought it was a good idea.

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