I Know Where I Stand

Unless the government want to pay me to get cable… Lawmakers split on subsidy for digital TV converters

Lawmakers seemed split along party lines Thursday over whether the government should buy converter boxes for millions of Americans who still use antenna-based TVs, once the nation’s shift to digital TV is finished.

A bill drafted by House Republicans sets Dec. 31, 2008, as the date by which broadcasters must return their analog airwaves to the government and broadcast in digital only. That deadline — two years later than Republicans originally advocated — drew bipartisan support at a House hearing Thursday.

But the bill includes no subsidy for the $50 boxes, which would convert digital to analog for consumers who use analog TVs that rely on antenna rather than on cable or satellite TV.