McCain Pushes Analog Reclamation Bill

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Sens. John McCain and Joe Lieberman Tuesday will unveil legislation aimed at reclaiming broadcast TV spectrum slated to be returned to the government and handed over to public safety departments and other new users by Jan. 1, 2009.

Another DTV bill is expected to be introduced later by Senate Commerce Committee Chairman Ted Stevens, who has also favored turning broadcasters' old analog TV channels to public safety departments by Jan. 1, 2009. 

Both bills will get a hearing before Stevens' Committee on June 29.

McCain and Lieberman have titled their bill the "Save Lives Act," short for Spectrum Availability for Emergency-Response and Law-Enforcement to Improve Vital Emergency Services Act.

McCain will hold a press conference Tuesday afternoon to promote the bill.

He will be joined by Thomas Kean, chairman of the 9/11 Commission, which urged Congress to hand more communications spectrum to local emergency departments after his panel discovered that crowded emergency radio bands prevented New York City police and fire personnel from communicating adequately during the 2001 terrorist attacks.

McCain has been pushing hard for a hard give-back date. Back in September, during one of those pushes, he cited a hearing he had held in 1997 that featured testimony about the failure of emergency communications during the Oklahoma City bombing. "That hearing was seven years ago. We are no better off today," he said last fall, invoking 9/11 communications problems to add: "Nothing has changed."

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