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House bill allows some analog messages after DTV switch

House of Representatives passes bill to let broadcasters air emergency and informational messages in analog for 30 days beyond February changeover.

The House of Representatives on Wednesday night unanimously passed a bill allowing television stations to broadcast emergency and informational messages in analog format in the days following the digital TV transition.

Flat-screen TV

The Short-term Analog Flash and Emergency Readiness Act was approved by the Senate last month and now awaits the president's signature. It requires the Federal Communications Commission by January 15 to implement a plan to encourage broadcasters to provide analog messages with public safety information or information about the digital transition for 30 days following the nationwide switch to digital broadcasting on February 17.

The legislation has been endorsed by the National Association of Broadcasters.

"Coupled with our billion dollar campaign to educate Americans on the digital TV transition, this timely legislation will give broadcasters one final resource to ensure that no TV viewer is left behind due to insufficient information," NAB Executive Vice President Dennis Wharton said.

However, not all broadcasters will be able to continue sending messages over analog, because new spectrum holders will have access to those airwaves after the switch, according to Graham Jones, the director of communications engineering for the NAB science and technology department.