The Senate Commerce Committee will hold not one but two full-committee hearings on the DTV transition July 12--10 a.m. and 2:30 p.m in room 253 of the Russell Building, for those marking their calendars.
Committee Chairman Ted Stevens (R-Alaska) had wanted to have a bill ready by the end of June, but it didn't work out that way. He said last month he thought he could draft a bill with bipartisan concensus over which "there will be very little controversy."
If so, he would be one up on his opposite number in the House. A House bill, pushed by Commerce Committee Chairman Joe Barton (R-Tex.), has been floated in draft form. Barton would have preferred it to be more than a draft, but the Democrats wouldn't sign off on it.
Both bills will have to hit such hot-buttons as multicast must-carry, when the hard deadline for the giveback will be set -- Dec. 31, 2008, is the working number on both sides of the Capitol -- and whether the government will subsidize converter boxes for every analog-only receiver or only for those owned by lower-income families.
Those were the issues that have hung up the House bill and could well be holding up that bipartisan support for Stevens' effort.
A Senate bill has yet to be floated, but could come any day now.