|The usually sleepy August recess has become prime time for digital-television lobbyists, who are jockeying for position before lawmakers use the budget reconciliation process to issue instructions for the shutdown of the nation’s analog airwaves.|
Lawmakers soon will finalize the end of 2008 as a deadline for U.S. broadcasters to begin transmitting exclusively digital signals, and that “hard date” will bring an auction of excess digital spectrum that could net as much as $10 billion in new government revenue. Wireless and Internet companies have joined lawmakers in salivating over the potential profit from that auction after last week’s Federal Communications Commission (FCC) ruling that consolidates phone companies’ power over existing broadband lines.
“When we talk about competition in the broadband marketplace, it would be good to have a level playing field between cable and DSL” connections, said Nick Kolovos, a digital-TV lobbyist for the Information Technology Industry Council (ITI). “It would be even better to have the spectrum released and have a third player as well.”