With the support of House Commerce Committee Chairman Joe Barton (R-Tex.) and Telecommunications Subcommittee Chairman Rep. Fred Upton (R-Mich.) the House Commerce Committee has approved an amendment, introduced by Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.) and two other New York reps, to give New york TV stations $30 million to make the 2009 hard date of converting to digital.
Engel pointed out that those stations'transmitters were wiped out on 9/11, and that the move to the Empire State Building had already cost $50 million.
The Metropolitan Televison Alliance, essentially a collective of New York broadcasters, have decided to move to the new Freedom Tower, but that won't be ready until 2010, while the transition deadline is the beginning of 2009.
"I had been pursuing a waiver to stay in analog until the tower was ready," said Engel. Barton had told him a waiver was not possible, but had agreed to consider alternatives, he said, for which he was grateful. there werre alternatives, he said, but they were expensive, which the $30 million would defray.
Some Connecticut broadcasters had opposed the waiver, saying that it would give the New York stations and unfair advantage. WTNH/WCTX New Haven GM Jon Hitchcock wrote key legislators expressing hiis concern about the "substantial number" of people, including those in Connecticut who receive an NYC signal, who will resist the change and turn to the N.Y. stations for their analog fix, instead, and audience the DTV-only stations could not serve.
The funds will be used for a series of transmitters to carry the station's signals.