While most American TV watchers and broadcasters are preparing for (fretting over) the long-planned DTV transition in February 2009, broadcasters along the U.S. southern border are requesting an exemption from shutting down their analog broadcasts--up to five years after the deadline. The House of Representatives, according to an article by HD Guru, has already passed the DTV Border Fix Act bill by unanimous consent.
"If passed by the House or Representatives after the summer recess under H.R. 5435, and signed by President Bush, any TV station within 50 miles of the U.S. border may continue analog broadcasting."
We've covered the upcoming DTV transition extensively and have a quick guide explaining its intricacies, but the situation along the Mexico border presents a unique scenario. Many non-English speaking Hispanics in cities such as El Paso, Texas, are able to receive both U.S.- and Mexican-based analog broadcasts. With Mexico proceeding on a 20-year plan to shut off its analog broadcasts by 2011, as covered in the Wikipedia entry on the subject, most households won't be sprinting off to the nearest electronic stores anytime soon to redeem their two DTV coupons offered by the federal government. Broadcasters along the border also claim that their customers "would miss out on any future U.S. emergency broadcasts" because their viewers' decision to forgo the DTV transition coupon program and the purchase of a converter box, according to HD Guru.
The bill addresses the area along the Mexican border, but what about other communities involved in the same predicament? Canada is not expected to fully switch over to DTV until 2011.
So we have to ask, what should the federal government do now after spending millions of dollars on DTV coupons and a high-profile public service campaign? Should Congress go ahead and pass the bill or stick to their guns and have the United States completely transition to DTV in February?
(Source: HD Guru)