WHEREAS, Congress and the Federal Communications Commission allocated 24 MHz of the 700 MHz band to public safety for enhanced communications back in 1997; and

WHEREAS, less than 5 percent of this country’s over 1500 television stations are currently blocking public safety communications in that 700 MHz band; and

WHEREAS, those 75 TV stations are preventing access by public safety in the largest metropolitan areas, where public safety serves over 50% of our country’s population, and where they need spectrum the most; and

WHEREAS, Congress mandated in the Balanced Budget Act of 1997 that TV stations clear this band by December 31, 2006, but left an open ended loophole that allows them to stay if less than 85 percent of the households in the TV service area are able to receive digital TV broadcasts; and

WHEREAS, unless Congress passes a law mandating a date certain, the year end 2006 clearing date will not be met in most areas; and

WHEREAS, Congress included a “sense of the Congress” in the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004 that Congress must pass legislation in 2005 that establishes a comprehensive approach to the timely return of analog broadcast spectrum as early as December 31, 2006; and

WHEREAS, access to this spectrum is critical to public safety for us to: • Increase capacity of our current spectrum constrained systems, alleviating dangerous radio communications congestion, and allowing implementation of new and expanded multi-agency and wide-area radio systems; • Achieve greater communications interoperability among our own city agencies and with other responding agencies at all levels of government; and • Implement new advanced mission critical communications, including high speed data, imaging and video systems; and

WHEREAS, approximately 90 percent of TV households receive their current television service by cable or satellite, thereby minimizing the TV viewer impact of Congress mandating TV broadcasters to fully transition to digital transmission; and

WHEREAS, vendors have projected affordable prices for digital to analog converter boxes, allowing viewers with current analog TV sets to watch over-the-air digital broadcasts; and

WHEREAS, Congress is considering subsidizing the cost of these converter boxes for TV viewers,

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that The United States Conference of Mayors calls on Congress to pass, and the President to sign, legislation in 2005 to mandate a date certain of no later than December 31, 2006 to end the DTV transition and provide spectrum access to public safety on a nationwide basis in the 700 MHz band; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that The United States Conference of Mayors calls on Congress to limit the disruption of over-the-air broadcast by subsidizing digital-to-analog television converter equipment for analog television sets from proceeds of a 700 MHz spectrum auction as well as labeling of analog televisions sets to communicate that the television sets will be incapable of displaying over-the-air television broadcast signals after December 31, 2006.

©2005 The U.S. Conference of Mayors
Tom Cochran, Executive Director
1620 Eye Street, NW, Washington, DC 20006
Tel. 202.293.7330 ~ Fax 202.293.2352