US lawmakers support digital TV plan

US legislators have approved legislation to complete the country's transition to new, higher-quality digital television by February 17, 2009, and to help consumers pay for the equipment needed to ensure their old televisions do not go dark, a Reuters report said.


The report said under a deal negotiated by Republicans in the House and Senate, up to $1.5 billion would be available to help people buy converter boxes to keep their old, analog-signal televisions working when the transition is finished.

The compromise is part of a larger bill aimed at cutting government spending over the next five years, which was narrowly approved by the House and still must be passed by the Senate, the report said.


Current law requires stations to switch to airing only digital broadcasts when 85% of the country can receive the new signals, or by December 31, 2006, whichever comes later.