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The Digital TV Transition: A Chance to Enhance Public Safety and Improve Spectrum Auctions

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journal contribution
posted on 01.01.2005 by Jon Peha
In 1996, Congress gave American broadcasters spectrum for digital television. Congress imposed a nominal deadline of December 2006 when broadcasters would cease analog transmissions and relinquish spectrum. However, this deadline applies only where 85% of households have televisions that can receive digital signals. That goal seems as far away today as it did in 1996, leaving American television trapped in a costly limbo. Broadcasters operate both analog and digital systems, and occupy vast amounts of precious spectrum. Meanwhile, few TV viewers see a difference. Consensus has recently emerged in Congress to push the transition forward, although opinions differ on specifics.