Sen. Ted Stevens (R-Alaska) signed on as a co-sponsor of a bill that would allow the government to give low-power-TV stations and translators in rural areas digital-TV-transition funds earlier than is currently allowed.
The bill was introduced by Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-Maine) with the backing of the National Telecommunications and Information Administration, which also wants to be able to get its hands on the $65 million in funding before 2010 so that low-power stations can make the transition to digital more quickly.
They are not under the same Feb. 17, 2009 deadline, so the NTIA and the Federal Communications Commission are looking for ways to speed their conversion, too, rather than winding up with a hybrid system of digital full-powers and analog low-powers and translators.
“This bill is vital to rural parts of our nation, including Alaska,” Stevens said in announcing his support. “It is important to ensure that rural America receives the same benefits of digital television as quickly as the nation’s urban areas. Television in rural Alaska is not only entertainment, but it also provides distance learning and important public-safety announcements.”