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Hill Takes Pass on DTV, Smut - Broadcasting & Cable

Hill Takes Pass on DTV, Smut

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Congress isn’t likely to include two big TV issues -- indecency and the digital-TV transition -- among bills lawmakers are trying to pass before leaving Washington for the year, Senate Commerce Committee chairman John McCain (R-Ariz.) told reporters Thursday.

Too many lawmakers want to add controversial provisions to a bill that would raise fines for indecency violations and require the FCC to take the violations into account when renewing TV and radio licenses to pass the legislation quickly. Broadcasters can rest easy, however. “Sooner or later this is going to be enacted,” he said after a hearing on FCC Commissioner Jonathan Adelstein’s reappointment to the FCC. Senator Sam Brownback (R-Kan.) has pledged to reintroduce an indecency bill in the next Congress.

On the issue of the transition to DTV, McCain said: “It’s too big an issue with the American people.” Congress will pass a non-binding resolution stating when lawmakers want TV stations to complete the switch to DTV and return their old analog channels to the government, he predicted. The date of the proposed deadline was still under negotiation at deadline Thursday.

The Senate was pushing a bill that would require only channels 62 and higher to be returned by 2007. House Commerce Committee Chairman Joe Barton, however, is blocking that measure and next year will fight for binding legislation that would set “hard” deadline for returning all channels.

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