Resolution - DTV Border Fix Act of 2007
WHEREAS, the continued availability of analog broadcasting is necessary to ensure that residents along the border continue to receive both Emergency Alert System (EAS) and AMBER Alert messages sent through the U.S. television broadcast system.
WHEREAS, Senator Hutchison has introduced her DTV Border Fix Act of 2007 (S. 2507) and Rep. Solis has introduced her DTV Border Fix Act (H.R. 5435), which both address public safety issues created by the nation’s conversion to digital broadcasting in February of 2009.
WHEREAS, the limited scope of this bills provides broadcasters located within 50 miles of the Southern border of the United States with the opportunity to continue simulcasting in both analog and digital after February 17, 2009, for up to five years at the broadcasters' absolute discretion, provided they are also operating in the digital mode and their analog operations do not otherwise affect the FCC's conversion from analog to digital broadcasting and making portions of the 700 MHz band available for public safety and wireless communications uses.
WHEREAS, unlike its neighbors to the north, Mexico has not made preparations for a conversion to digital broadcasting. As a result, stations in Mexico will continue broadcasting in analog after the United States has switched to digital only broadcasting. This includes both Telemundo and Univision stations, which are the major Spanish-language broadcasters in the United States. The availability of Spanish language programming along the Southern border (post-transition), without the need to either subscribe to a pay television service or obtain a converter box, creates a series of problems unique to this area of the country
WHEREAS, even if outreach and awareness efforts are wildly successful, we believe that the availability of Spanish language television channels originating in Mexico will dissuade many residents from undertaking the necessary steps to prepare for the transition. Some households cannot afford pay television subscriptions or even subsidized converter boxes for all of the televisions and analog media devices in their homes. Others will be deterred from obtaining coupons or converter boxes because of concerns about their legal status.
WHEREAS, the traditional over-the-air broadcast industry is an “ad supported” business. The most significant source of revenue for these broadcasters comes from advertising contracts signed with various sponsors. The ad rates are generally based on the overall viewership and viewership during particular time slots. If viewership of the domestic broadcasters in the border region fall dramatically after the transition because of the availability of alternative analog programming, the operating revenue of the domestic stations will also fall and could threaten their continued operation. These local broadcasters are an important source of employment and the cultural identity of the communities they serve.
WHEREAS, while the United States is currently working with Mexico on an effort to make AMBER Alert messages available over Mexican broadcast stations, at this time EAS and AMBER Alert messages are delivered only by the domestic providers outlined above. This means that at least until Mexican stations begin broadcasting these messages, each household that obtains their television signals exclusively from Mexican broadcasters will not receive these important messages. While these alerts are available over traditional radio stations as well, television is perhaps the most commonly viewed media distribution mechanism. The lack of access to EAS and AMBER Alert messages by some residents poses an unacceptable public safety risk, and in the case of the AMBER Alert system compromises the overall effectiveness of the system by limiting the number of individuals receiving the alerts.
WHEREAS, the bills are limited in scope and provides that the FCC retains broad authority to deny stations in the affected area the ability to simulcast in analog and digital if it does not serve the public interest. Specifically, stations allowed to simulcast may not cause interference with other full power stations or public safety applications. In addition, if the FCC believes that granting a station a renewal of its analog broadcast license will interfere with the recovery and auction of spectrum, it may refuse to grant the application.
WHEREAS, this bill applies only to stations within 50 miles of the common border with Mexico and in effect, is limited to the areas of Laredo, McAllen, and El Paso, Texas and Yuma, Arizona/El Centro, California.
WHEREAS, the FCC recently studied the language in the Senate bill specifically looking at the Senate bill in order to determine if they felt it would pose a danger to the digital television transition, lead to potential interference, or adversely affect the 700 MHz auction. After review by the Wireless Telecommunications Bureau, the Office of Engineering and Technology, and the Office of the Chairman, the FCC is satisfied that the bill does not pose a risk to the transition or the auction.
WHEREAS, we believe that no community or group of people in the United States should be left behind without access to public safety systems as a result of the Digital Transition that will take place in February of 2009
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED BY THE [NAME OF ORGANIZATION] that:
Section 1: We call on the U.S. Congress to pass S. 2507 & H.R. 5435 to ensure that residents along the U.S. Mexico Border are not left in the dark without access to fundamental services such as the Emergency Alert System (EAS) which provides important information on public safety, public health, homeland security and hazardous weather and the Amber Alert System
Section 2: We call on President George W. Bush to sign into Law this legislation
Section 3: The [SECRETARY OF THE NAME OF ORGANIZATION] is directed to transmit a certified copy of this resolution to the Director of the USCIS, to the President of the United States, the Speaker of the United States House of Representatives, and the President Pro Tempore of the U.S. Senate for inclusion in the Congressional Record.
Approved this 11th day of July 2008.