This article was taken from The first few paragraphs are the most relevant:


The FCC is developing a proposal that would pave the wave for a
digital TV (DTV) transition by January 2009, which could lead to
auctions in that same timeframe for some 36 megahertz of spectrum in
the 700 MHz band, long desired by wireless carriers. Another 24 MHz
is to be made available to the public safety community. The FCC is
starting to vet the plan on Capitol Hill.

Media Bureau Chief W. Kenneth Ferree this morning told reporters the
bureau was developing a proposal to present to the Commission that
would help it get around a congressional mandate that the spectrum
should be cleared after Dec. 31, 2006, but only if 85% of viewers are
able to receive digital signals.

A likely proposal would allow cable TV system operators to "down
convert" digital signals to enable them to be viewed on analog TV sets.
"This is really the first effort to understand and come to some
conclusions about what the 85% test means," Mr. Ferree said.

Mr. Ferree said the plan would lead to the release of spectrum for
auction in "about" 2009. "There may be a slight delay because not
every broadcaster is going to arrange to be here on Jan. 1, 2009, to
hand us their license," he explained. "There may be a period of time
in which we have to go out and reclaim those licenses. But you're
talking months. This is not going to go into 2015 or something."

The plan has been presented in one form or another to each of the five
Commissioners, he said. He added that delaying the transition would
have several advantages from the Commission's standpoint.
"Consumers will have that much more time to be put on notice . . .
that, hey, come 2009, analogue transmissions are likely to stop
nationwide," he said.. "If you're going out to buy a new TV tomorrow
or in 2008, you might want to think about not buying an analog set."

Mr. Ferree said a delay would also give manufacturers a chance to
reduce the cost of converter boxes that will enable analog sets to
receive digital signals. The cost of the boxes today would likely be
about $100 if they were mass produced, according to manufacturers,
Mr. Ferree said. "By 2009 they think we're looking at $50 or
something like that."

Initial congressional reaction to the plan has been positive, Mr. Ferree
said, though there are concerns about the millions of Americans who
would be caught without a TV signal once analog signals are taken off
the air. "The questions they have are about the 15%," he said. "The
rest of this is going to be seamless. Everybody else is going to be
thrilled, right? Or at least not affected. It's the 15%. The last
discussions we have had with [lawmakers] have all been about what
do you do with them."

He predicted that broadcasters would try to block the plan. "They'd
rather eat their children then give up their spectrum," he said. "We're
not children here. Let's not pretend to be so naive. They'll hold onto
this spectrum until their dying day if they can. I don't blame them. I
would, too, if I were a broadcaster. That's all their leverage. That's
everything to them."

"The 700 MHz band is being used for `Cops' reruns, when those
airwaves should be put in the hands of real cops in the field," the
Cellular Telecommunications & Internet Association said. "The
broadcasters, who have dragged their feet on this transition, are the
bad boys of spectrum policy, and clearing them from this spectrum as
soon as possible to make room for public safety is the right thing to
do." - Howard Buskirk,

I (and most people) already knew that they could not meet the 2006 deadline but I expected a delay until 2007 at most. Now, it may be even longer. Darn it, I want my DTV!!!