House sets date, $1.5B for digital TV conversion

The US House of Representatives has set February 17, 2009, as the transition date for all television broadcasts to change from analog to digital transmissions. The legislation also allowed for $1.5 billion in subsidies for low-income families in need of purchasing analog-to-digital set-top boxes. The date and converter box subsidy amount are each compromises between initial House and Senate legislation. The Senate proposed April 7, 2009, as the date and $3 billion as the amount for subsidies. The House had initially pegged December 31, 2008, as the date to end all analog transmissions. The switch to digital television will open up valuable radio spectrum for wireless communication. The government will auction off the available spectrum for as much as $10 billion, according to analysts.

For more on the House's timetable for digital TV:
- see this AP article