By a 216-214 vote, Congress today (Feb. 1) approved a $39 billion budget-cutting measure that will require TV stations to stop using their analog channels by Jan. 1, 2009. The change won’t affect cable or satellite customers, but the 15 percent homes that receive “over the air” signals will need to get a digital tuner in order to continue receiving TV shows. The government is planning to dole out $990 million in vouchers for those who cannot afford such tuners, which will cost between $50 and $60. Local TV stations will switch to new channel numbers. For instance, KTVU will move from Channel 2 to 56; KGO from 7 to 24; KPIX from 5 to 59; KNTV from 11 to 12; KRON from 4 to 57, and so on. The portion of the spectrum TV stations abandon will be auctioned off by the government to commercial wireless providers or given to police and fire departments for two-way communications. [Media Week] [Reuters]

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