As advertised, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) has re-introduced a basic TV "lifeline" bill.
The bill would assure that over-the-air only viewers at risk of losing some TV stations’ signals after the DTV transition continue to have access to their local TV stations.
Sanders introduced a similar bill last session.
That assurance would come in the form of an $80 coupon that the National Telecommunications & Information Administration would administer, much as it now does the $40 coupons for digital-to-analog converter boxes.
The new subsidy would cover the cost of getting help installing a converter box, or toward the purchase of an outdoor antenna, or both if they are needed to pull in a digital signal.
It would also cover equipment or set-up costs of getting a basic multichannel video package supplying local TV channels.
The program would last 18 months and be budgeted at $700 million.
Rep. Rick Boucher (D-Va.), who is expected to become the next chair of the House Telecommunications & Internet Subcommittee, is also working on a similar bill in the House.