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DTV bill update: what's a few billion dollars?

Kevin C. Tofel

Looks like we'll have to wait another three weeks for any DTV legislation. The expected action is set for the week of October 17th. While we're all waiting for Al Gore to step up and claim that he invented HDTV, here's an update on what's expected.

On the Republican side, a subsidy of up to $1 billion for set-top analog-to-digital converters would be acceptable for some. Others in the GOP would like to see a $20 co-pay for the converter that is estimated to cost $60. Hmm...will they need a referral? When I hear "co-pay", I can't help but think of health care.

The Democrats are willing to subsidize up to $2.5 billion for the converters. I wonder where they're going to get all that money; oh well, that's their problem....riiiiiight. Dems are starting to consider a "means-test" to qualify for the subsidy; something the Republicans have wanted from the start.

On the "must-carry" viewpoint, the only thing clear is that it's all unclear. "Must-carry" is the proposed rule that requires cable operators to carry local digital broadcasts. Some of the greatest minds involved in the legislation are proposing that cable companies be required to carry up to two local broadcast channels. Oh, that's a brilliant idea that helps the consumer. Let the government or the cable industry decide which two local channels you can watch.


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