First Reponders Push For More Money


Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Tex.) is gathering with first responders from Mississippi, New York, and Texas Wednesday to call for more funding for emergency commuincations in the House DTV transition bill.

She also wants more money for the digital-to-analog converter box subsidy, suggesting that the Senate version's $3 billion--two free boxes for each household--is a better deal than the House version's $990 million, first-come, first-served plan.

The full House is expected to vote on the bill Thursday, after which the two DTV bills must be reconciled in conference. Althought the House bill is full of various provisions on cable conversion of the digital signal, a consumer education campaign, and a detailed blueprint for the subsidy, those may have to be stripped out in conference to square with rules that prevent legislating on appropriations bills.

It is likely that the conferenced bill will emerge with a hard date for the return of analog spectrum--Dec. 31, 2008 (House version), April 7, 2009 (Senate version) and a subsidy.

That would necessitate a separate bill to deal with all the other issues, including consumer education, cable conversion of the signal, and multicasting must-carry, among others.

Both DTV transition bills are part of digital television involves auctions of reclaimed analog spectrum that will return billions to the treasury.