Efforts to craft a bipartisan bill in the U.S. House of Representatives to set a permanent deadline for finishing the transition to digital television signals have broken down, Democrats said on Friday. ¶ House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Joe Barton's staff has drafted a bill to set the deadline for the completing the switch from analog to digital signals on Dec. 31, 2008, according to a copy obtained by Reuters. ...¶... Broadcasters have been worried that setting a permanent deadline would leave millions of Americans who rely solely on over-the-air broadcast television without those signals. Lawmakers, including Barton of Texas, had urged a subsidy plan to give some or all households converter boxes. ¶ However, the draft legislation did not include such a program, a breaking point for the committee's Democrats. ... Link: Reuters.
Update: House GOP open to digital TV subsidy. Republicans in the House of Representatives are still open to a subsidy plan to help Americans who only get broadcast television afford the switch to digital television, a congressional aide said Monday. ...¶... a subsidy program was not included in the draft because the extended switch deadline would give more time to buy a converter box, said a Republican congressional aide, who declined to be identified. ¶ But Republicans would be open to an "appropriately-crafted program," the aide said, but declined to elaborate. ... Link: Reuters.