Safety Officers Want Channels


The people who run the communications systems for police, fire and rescue personnel are urging Congress to require some broadcasters to turn over their channels at the end of 2006.

They say they need to gain access ASAP to the four TV channels--63-63, 68, and 69--that the FCC has reallocated to public safety radio when that spectrum can be reclaimed from broadcasters.
The Association of Public-Safety Communications Officials (APCO) wrote a letter to House Telecommunications Subcommittee Chairman Fred Upton Thursday in advance of his hearing June 2 on an FCC plan to speed the transition.
APCO wants Congress to mandate a hard Dec. 31, 2006, give-back date for any TV channels, like the above mentioned, that "block" public safety allocations.
Currently the date is either Dec. 31, 2006--which virtually everyone agrees is now unreachable--or whenever 85% of TV homes are capable receiving recieving a digital signal.
APCO also supports the so-called Ferree plan--the subject of the Upton hearing--which will redefine DTV-capable as those also receiving a DTV signal converted to analog. That would greatly expand the definition and effectively move up the date. That plan now targets Jan. 1, 2009, as a realistic giveback date, though obviously APCO wants the public safety channels back sooner.