There's been a lot of talk among politicians about finally getting a real deadline in place to force the switch from analog TV to digital TV, but little actual movement for a variety of reasons. Hopefully, that's changing. The Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee has approved a bill that would set the cutoff date as April 7, 2009, though, they voted down an amendment that would push it up to 2007. What's scary is that the politicians who voted this down made it clear that the no vote was simply an issue of money. They believe if they hold out on auctioning off the spectrum they reclaim until 2009, they'll raise more money for the government's coffers. Of course, the delay would also mean two years where that useful spectrum cannot be used for emergency wireless services or other kinds of commercial wireless services that could help boost the overall economy. It's a shortsighted decision -- and, so far, we've seen plenty of foot dragging on moving forward with the transition. Setting an early date, and sticking to it, would be a huge step forward. Of course, the other reason politicians are pushing it back is they don't want to upset constituents with the idea that their televisions won't work the day after the switch. There's a simple solution to this: allocate money to pay for TV upgrades. The amount needed would be tiny compared to what the government would get back in auction revenue and society would get back in terms of benefits from having that valuable wasted spectrum put to good use.
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