Senator John McCain (R-Ariz.) told a New America Foundation audience Tuesday that he would try to amend a Senate Commerce Committee DTV bill to move the hard date up to 2007 or even 2006.
A draft of the bill, circulated last Friday, would set the date at April 7, 2009, but McCain has been pushing for a closer date so that some of broadcasters' analog spectrum could be reclaimed and given to First Responders.
McCain was speaking at a conference aptly named: "Public Safety at Stake: How the DTV Transition Can Redeploy Unused Airwaves for America’s First Responders."
McCain and former 9/11 Commissioner Tim Roemer have been stumping for an ASAP hard date.
McCain has been calling for the return of spectrum since 9/11 and the communications problems with firemen and police, saying broadcasters are dragging their feet and costing lives. Hurricane Katrina communications problems only fueled his anger and gave him a very public stage as Washington focused most of its attention on Katrina issues, including emergency communications.
McCain and Sen. Joe Lieberman introduced a bill earlier this year, the SAVE Lives Act, that would return analog spectrum by Jan. 1, 2009. McCain later said that, given the hurricane problems, he wanted to amend that to Jan. 1, 2007, and now perhaps even earlier.
The Senate DTV transition bill, which sets a date for the switch to all-digital transmission and the return of analog spectrum for auction, is being marked up Thursday. A House bill is scheduled for mark-up by Oct. 28.