Report text available as:

  • TXT
  • PDF   (PDF provides a complete and accurate display of this text.) Tip ?

110th Congress                                                   Report
 2d Session                                                     110-348


                                                       Calendar No. 774



                              R E P O R T

                                 OF THE



                                S. 2607


                 June 10, 2008.--Ordered to be printed
                       one hundred tenth congress
                             second session

                   DANIEL K. INOUYE, Hawaii, Chairman
                   TED STEVENS, Alaska, Vice-Chairman
    Virginia                         KAY BAILEY HUTCHISON, Texas
JOHN F. KERRY, Massachusetts         OLYMPIA J. SNOWE, Maine
BYRON L. DORGAN, North Dakota        GORDON H. SMITH, Oregon
BARBARA BOXER, California            JOHN ENSIGN, Nevada
BILL NELSON, Florida                 JOHN E. SUNUNU, New Hampshire
MARIA CANTWELL, Washington           JIM DEMINT, South Carolina
FRANK R. LAUTENBERG, New Jersey      DAVID VITTER, Louisiana
MARK PRYOR, Arkansas                 JOHN THUNE, South Dakota
THOMAS CARPER, Delaware              ROGER F. WICKER, Mississippi
          Margaret Cummisky, Staff Director and Chief Counsel
         Lila Helms, Deputy Staff Director and Policy Director
       Jean Toal Eisen, Senior Advisor and Deputy Policy Director
     Christine Kurth, Republican Staff Director and General Counsel
                Paul J. Nagle, Republican Chief Counsel
             Mimi Braniff, Republican Deputy Chief Counsel
                                                       Calendar No. 774
110th Congress                                                   Report
 2d Session                                                     110-348




                 June 10, 2008.--Ordered to be printed


       Mr. Inouye, from the Committee on Commerce, Science, and 
                Transportation, submitted the following


                         [To accompany S. 2607]

    The Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, to 
which was referred the bill (S. 2607) to make a technical 
correction to section 3009 of the Deficit Reduction Act of 
2005, having considered the same, reports favorably thereon 
without amendment and recommends that the bill do pass.

                          Purpose of the Bill

  The purpose of S. 2607 is to accelerate the transition to 
digital television for low-power broadcasting facilities.

                          Background and Needs

  The Digital Television Transition and Public Safety Act of 
2005 (DTV Act), enacted as part of the Deficit Reduction Act of 
2005, set February 17, 2009, as the deadline for the digital 
television transition. By this date, full-power broadcasters 
must return their analog spectrum and broadcast exclusively 
digital transmissions. However, low-power broadcasting 
facilities have no corresponding statutory obligation to switch 
to digital signals. As a result, more than 7,000 low-power 
broadcasting facilities in the United States may continue to 
broadcast in analog after February 17, 2009.
  The DTV Act created two funds to assist low-power facilities 
with the digital transition. Four types of facilities are 
recognized as eligible for this assistance: Low-power 
television (LPTV) stations, Class A television stations, 
translators, and boosters. These facilities fall into two 
categories. First, there are translator and booster stations. 
Translator and booster stations are repeaters that take a 
broadcast signal and transmit it again, thereby extending the 
range of the original broadcast signal. In rural areas, 
particularly in the western half of the United States, 
translators are used to lengthen the reach of many television 
broadcast stations. Consumers receiving over-the-air signals 
today via a booster or translator may be unaware that that some 
or all of their broadcast signals are provided over this kind 
of architecture.
  Second, there are low-power television stations and Class A 
television stations. In 1982, the Federal Communications 
Commission (FCC) created low-power television service, allowing 
community-oriented television stations to broadcast over a 
small area. LPTV stations are operated by diverse groups and 
organizations, including high schools, colleges, religious 
groups, local governments, and individuals. The actual distance 
at which these stations can be viewed depends on a variety of 
factors, including regional topography, antenna height, and 
transmitter power. These stations have secondary spectrum 
priority. This means that they must not cause interference to 
the reception of existing or future full-power stations, must 
accept interference from full-power stations, and must yield to 
new full-power stations, where interference occurs. Class A 
stations are low-power stations but with primary spectrum 
status. In exchange for receiving this status, these stations 
must broadcast locally-produced programming for a set number of 
hours a day.
  The first DTV Act fund directs the National 
Telecommunications and Information Agency (NTIA) to spend up to 
$10 million to implement a digital-to-analog conversion program 
for low-power facilities. This program is helpful for 
translator stations that wish to remain in analog following the 
transition. With a digital-to-analog conversion device, these 
facilities can convert the incoming digital signals of their 
corresponding full-power television station to analog format 
for retransmission on the translator's analog channel. Under 
the terms of the DTV Act, these funds are presently available 
to eligible stations that apply to the NTIA.
  The second DTV Act fund directs the NTIA to spend up to $65 
million to implement a program through which low-power 
facilities can receive reimbursement for digital equipment 
upgrades. This program will provide low-power stations with 
reimbursement for upgrades of their facilities from analog to 
digital, which would allow a low-power station to broadcast in 
digital. Under current law, these funds are not available until 
October 1, 2010, roughly 20 months after the transition. In 
addition, a technical error in the DTV Act directs payment to 
be made in fiscal year (FY) 2009, but separately does not 
permit payments until FY 2010. S. 2607 would change the date in 
the DTV Act that these funds are available to February 18, 
2009. In addition, the bill ensures that these funds will be 
available for a longer period following the transition to 
reflect the rolling timeframe during which these facilities are 
expected to convert to digital.

                          Legislative History

  On February 7, 2008, Senator Snowe introduced S. 2607. 
Senators Stevens, Cantwell, McCaskill, and Smith are co-
sponsors. On April 8, 2008, the Committee held an oversight 
hearing on the digital television transition. On April 24, 
2008, the Committee held an executive session at which S. 2607 
was considered. The bill, without amendment, was approved by 
voice vote.
  Staff assigned to this legislation are Jessica Rosenworcel, 
Democratic Senior Communications Counsel, Alex Hoehn-Saric, 
Democratic Communications Counsel, and Paul Nagle, Republican 
Chief Counsel.

                            Estimated Costs

  In accordance with paragraph 11(a) of rule XXVI of the 
Standing Rules of the Senate and section 403 of the 
Congressional Budget Act of 1974, the Committee provides the 
following cost estimate, prepared by the Congressional Budget 

                                     U.S. Congress,
                               Congressional Budget Office,
                                       Washington, DC, May 5, 2008.
Hon. Daniel K. Inouye,
Chairman, Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation,
U.S. Senate, Washington, DC.
    Dear Mr. Chairman: The Congressional Budget Office has 
prepared the enclosed cost estimate for S. 2607, a bill to make 
a technical correction to section 3009 of the Deficit Reduction 
Act of 2005.
    If you wish further details on this estimate, we will be 
pleased to provide them. The CBO staff contact is Susan Willie.
                                         Robert A. Sunshine
                                   (For Peter R. Orszag, Director).

S. 2607--A bill to make a technical correction to section 3009 of the 
        Deficit Reduction Act of 2005

    Under current law, the National Telecommunications and 
Information Administration (NTIA) is authorized to reimburse 
certain low-power television stations in fiscal year 2009 for 
their costs to upgrade analog equipment to broadcast digital 
signals. The payments are to be made from spectrum auction 
proceeds deposited in the Digital Television Transition and 
Public Safety Fund.
    S. 2607 would extend NTIA's authority to make those 
reimbursements through fiscal year 2012 and amend contradictory 
direction in current law regarding when such payments would 
start. Under current law, CBO assumes that those payments would 
be made over the next few years. Based on information from 
NTIA, CBO estimates that enacting S. 2607 would not change the 
agency's anticipated spending patterns, and thus would have no 
effect on direct spending. Enacting the bill would not affect 
revenues or spending subject to appropriation.
    S. 2607 contains no intergovernmental or private-sector 
mandates as defined in the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act and 
would impose no costs on state, local, or tribal governments.
    The CBO staff contact for this estimate is Susan Willie. 
This estimate was approved by Theresa Gullo, Deputy Assistant 
Director for Budget Analysis.

                      Regulatory Impact Statement

  In accordance with paragraph 11(b) of rule XXVI of the 
Standing Rules of the Senate, the Committee provides the 
following evaluation of the regulatory impact of the 
legislation, as reported:

                       NUMBER OF PERSONS COVERED

  The number of persons covered by this legislation would be 
consistent with current levels of individuals affected.

                            ECONOMIC IMPACT

  S. 2607 would have a positive impact on the nation's economy 
by facilitating the transition to digital television for low-
power broadcasters.


  S. 2607 is not expected to have an adverse effect on the 
personal privacy of any individuals that will be impacted by 
this legislation.


  S. 2607 would have minimal impact on current paperwork 

                   Congressionally Directed Spending

  In compliance with paragraph 4(b) of rule XLIV of the 
Standing Rules of the Senate, the Committee provides that no 
provision of the reported bill meets the definition of 
congressionally directed spending items under the rule.

                      Section-by-Section Analysis

  S. 2607 would amend Section 3009(a) of the Deficit Reduction 
Act of 2005 to: (1) Extend payments under the Low-Power 
Television and Translator Upgrade Program through fiscal year 
2012; and (2) allow low power broadcasters to receive upgrade 
funds beginning February 18, 2009.

                        Changes in Existing Law

  In compliance with paragraph 12 of rule XXVI of the Standing 
Rules of the Senate, changes in existing law made by the bill, 
as reported, are shown as follows (existing law proposed to be 
omitted is enclosed in black brackets, new material is printed 
in italic, existing law in which no change is proposed is shown 
in roman):


                           PUBLIC LAW 109-171


  (a) Establishment.--The Assistant Secretary shall make 
payments of not to exceed $65,000,000, in the aggregate, during 
[fiscal year 2009] fiscal years 2009 through 2012; and from the 
Digital Television Transition and Public Safety Fund 
established under section 309(j)(8)(E) of the Communications 
Act of 1934 (47 U.S.C. 309(j)(8)(E)) to implement and 
administer a program through which each licensee of an eligible 
low-power television station may receive reimbursement for 
equipment to upgrade low-power television stations from analog 
to digital in eligible rural communities, as that term is 
defined in section 610(b)(2) of the Rural Electrification Act 
of 1937 (7 U.S.C. 950bb(b)(2)). Such reimbursements shall be 
issued to eligible stations [no earlier than October 1, 2010] 
on or after February 18, 2009. Priority reimbursements shall be 
given to eligible low-power television stations in which the 
license is held by a non-profit corporation and eligible low-
power television stations that serve rural areas of fewer than 
10,000 viewers.
  (b) Eligible Stations.--For purposes of this section, the 
term ``eligible low-power television station'' means a low-
power television broadcast station, Class A television station, 
television translator station, or television booster station--
          (1) that is itself broadcasting exclusively in analog 
        format; and
          (2) that has not converted from analog to digital 
        operations prior to the date of enactment of the 
        Digital Television Transition and Public Safety Act of