Senate gives analog TV broadcasters until April 2009

And the beat goes on as the Senate sets a hard date for television broadcasters to end their analog transmissions. Broadcasters have until April 7, 2009. The bill also allocates $3 billion for viewers in need of an analog-to-digital converter set-top box. The announcement is the latest effort in the long-term process of phasing out analog broadcasts in order to free up valuable radio spectrum. Last month the House of Representatives was less generous with time and money as it proposed $1 billion for the STBs and a deadline of December 31, 2008. The differences are set to be worked out when the governing bodies get around to it.

Digital TV will bring crisper sound and sharper pictures for consumers and free up radio spectrum for the government to auction off to wireless carriers. The Senate set aside an additional $1 billion for emergency workers to buy new radio equipment, since much of the political spin for the conversion is to benefit first responders. Although emergency workers will get a slice of the spectrum, much of it will be auctioned off for use in technologies that use licensed spectrum like WiMax.

For more on the Senate's analog/digital television timetable:
- see this piece from the AP