DATES: These rules become effective [Insert date 30 days after publication in the Federal Register].
ADDRESSES: A complete set of comments filed in response to the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking is available for public inspection at the Office of the Chief Counsel, National Telecommunications and Information Administration, Room 4713, U.S. Department of Commerce, 1401 Constitution Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C. The responses can also be viewed electronically at http://www.ntia.doc.gov.
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Milton Brown, NTIA (202) 482-1816.
1. The Digital Television Transition and Public Safety Act of 2005 (the Act), among other things, directs the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to require full-power television stations to cease analog broadcasting and to broadcast solely digital transmissions after February 17, 2009.[ 1 ] The returned analog television spectrum is to be auctioned, and the Act directs the FCC to deposit receipts from that auction into a new Treasury Fund to be known as the Digital Television Transition and Public Safety Fund (the Fund). [ 2 ]
2. Recognizing that consumers may wish to continue receiving broadcast programming over the air using analog-only televisions not connected to cable or satellite service, the Act authorizes NTIA to create a digital-to-analog converter box assistance program (Coupon Program). Specifically, Section 3005 of the Act directs NTIA to implement and administer a program through which eligible U.S. households may obtain via the United States Postal Service a maximum of two coupons of $40 each to be applied towards the purchase of a Coupon-Eligible Converter Box (CECB). [ 3 ] To implement the Coupon Program, the Act authorizes NTIA to use up to $990 million from the Fund for the program, including up to $100 million for program administration (Initial Funds).[ 4 ] A contingent level of $510 million in additional funds is authorized upon a 60-day notice and certification to the Committee on Energy and Commerce of the House of Representatives and the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation of the Senate that the initial funding level is insufficient to fulfill coupon requests for eligible U.S. households (Contingent Funds).[ 5 ] NTIA is, therefore, authorized to expend up to a total of $1.5 billion for the program, including up to $160 million for administration. Assuming the entire administrative amount is taken into account, $1.34 billion would be available for distributing up to 33.5 million coupons. This section also authorizes NTIA, beginning on October 1, 2006, to borrow not more than $1.5 billion from the Treasury to implement the program. NTIA must reimburse the Treasury for this amount, without interest, as recovered analog television spectrum auction proceeds are deposited into the Fund.[ 6 ]
3. On July 25, 2006, NTIA published a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) and Request for Comment in the Federal Register on ways to implement and administer such a program pursuant to the Act.[ 7 ] NTIA also held meetings on November 14 and 15, 2006, to afford interested parties the opportunity to clarify comments submitted in response to the NPRM.[ 8 ]
[ 1 ] See Title III of the Deficit Reduction Act of 2005, Pub. L. No. 109-171, 120 Stat. 4, 21 (Feb. 8, 2006) (the Act).Section 3002(a) of the Act amends Section 309(j)(14)(A) of the Communications Act of 1934 so that analog full-power television licenses will terminate on February 17, 2009. Section 3002(b) of the Act directs the FCC toterminate analog television licenses for full-power stations by February 18, 2009.
[ 4 ] NTIA intends to enter into a contract for services to administer the Coupon Program through a separate program acquisition plan. The contractor will be responsible for establishing and managing the systems and processes through which some of the final rules may be applied. In this document, "NTIA" should be understood to be either NTIA or its contractor.
[ 7 ] Request for Comment and Notice of Proposed Rules to Implement and Administer a Coupon Program for Digital-to-Analog Converter Boxes, Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, 71 Fed. Reg. 42,067 (July 25, 2006).
[ 8 ] Summaries of these ex parte meetings are posted on NTIA's website at http://www.ntia.doc.gov http://www.ntia.doc.gov