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State of Vermont

House of Representatives

Montpelier, Vermont

Joint House Resolution

J.R.H.  63

Joint resolution relating to the imminent conversion to digital television and consumers’ costs and knowledge

Offered by:  Representative Obuchowski of Rockingham

Whereas, television transmission in the United States was established in an analog format, and television sets were designed to receive the analog signal, and

Whereas, although the analog transmission system has improved over the decades with the introduction of color television and larger screens, it remains limited in its capacity to transmit a higher quality signal, and

Whereas, technological advances in recent years have resulted in the development of a far more advanced television transmission system known as digital television that enables a television station to transmit either a single high definition signal with audio quality approximating that of a CD and extremely sharp video or several simultaneous standard digital signals that are still technically superior to an analog signal, and

Whereas, digital television uses a different segment of the broadcast spectrum than traditional analog television, and the Federal Communications Commission has assigned new channels for all television stations to broadcast in the digital format, and

Whereas, during the current transitional period, television stations have been transmitting signals in both the digital and analog format, but Congress has enacted legislation terminating analog transmissions effective February 17, 2009, and

Whereas, individuals who own the newer television sets designed to receive the digital channel or who are reliant on satellite reception or a digital cable subscription can continue to receive the signal after the conversion date in February 2009, and

Whereas, the millions of consumers who have not purchased a new digital television and are dependent on the traditional signal for reception, and possibly those persons with an analog cable subscription, will require a separate converter box to receive the digital signal, and



Whereas, Congress realized that converter boxes could pose a major expense for many consumers, especially if they own more than one television, and federal legislation established a converter box coupon program under the auspices of the National Telecommunications and Information Administration, and

Whereas, each household is entitled to two coupons that enables the consumer to receive a $40.00 discount on the price of a single converter box, and

Whereas, although this program does provide some financial assistance to consumers wishing to purchase the new converter boxes, the boxes will continue to remain costly and pose a major economic strain for many consumers, and

Whereas, according to an April 8, 2008, U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation press release, 73 percent of the U.S. population is unaware of the coupon program and 74 percent do not recognize the impact the conversion will have on their television reception, and

Whereas, Congress has imposed this technologically beneficial but individually expensive change on the American people’s primary source of information and entertainment while auctioning off the analog spectrum to the highest corporate bidders for new telecommunications uses, and it is only fair that the converter boxes (with a reasonable limit per household) be made available at no charge to the consumer, now therefore be it

Resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives:

That the General Assembly urges Congress to amend the digital converter box coupon program to remove the consumer cost, to require that analog cable subscribers are not required to pay a surcharge for any necessary technical modifications in the cable transmission, and to better publicize both the program and the impact of the imminent digital television conversion on consumers, and be it further

Resolved:  That the secretary of state be directed to send a copy of this resolution to the cable television providers in Vermont, to U.S. Representative Edward Markey, chair of the U.S. House Subcommittee on Telecommunications and the Internet, to U.S. Senator Daniel Inouye, chair of the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation, and to the Vermont congressional delegation.




____________________________              Attested to:

Gaye R. Symington

Speaker of the House


____________________________              ____________________________

Brian E. Dubie                                             Donald G. Milne

President of the Senate                               Clerk, House of Representatives



Published by:

The Vermont General Assembly
115 State Street
Montpelier, Vermont