Law sets Feb. 17, 2009, as the end of analog broadcasting, but provides $1.5 billion to reimburse consumers for D/A converters.

President Bush signed into law the budget reconciliation bill that includes a digital television provision establishing Feb. 17, 2009, as the hard date for the end of analog broadcasts. It also allocates up to $1.5 billion to reimburse consumers who purchase digital to analog converter boxes that will enable their analog TV sets to continue to work after the transition. The legislation excludes a provision that would have allowed cable operators to degrade a broadcaster’s HDTV signals to “standard definition.”

In a statement, NAB President and CEO David K. Rehr said: “With today’s enactment of the budget reconciliation bill and its digital television provisions, we have crossed an important threshold. NAB is pleased that Congress adopted many pro-consumer DTV measures in the legislation, and we’re encouraged that the bill thwarted cable industry attempts to degrade the quality of HDTV pictures to consumers.”

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