If John McCain has his way, the government will require television stations to stop broadcasting analog TV by January 1, 2007. The senator and other lawmakers in both the House and the Senate are supporting amendments to a budget bill that will, if passed, enforce a turn-off date that's a full two years earlier than was originally indicated. They cite the necessity to free up spectrum for use by emergency services and use the large-scale breakdown of communications after Hurricane Katrina as an example. The sped-up transition would leave millions of people who watch only over-the-air analog TV--namely those who can't afford cable or satellite--without any recourse but to purchase a special adapter that would allow their TVs to receive digital broadcasts. Congress is expected to vote on the amendments within the next couple of weeks.
Trade journalist Mark Schubin, for one, challenged the legislation on the grounds that shutting down analog broadcasts would endanger lives rather than protect them. He also encourages everyone to contact their local senators to voice their opinions. I think Schubin makes a pretty good point.