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Balanced Budget Act of 1997, Pub. L. No. 105-33, 111 Stat. 251 (Aug. 5, 1997).


The Act mandated the eventual transition to digital television. It represented the legislative culmination of over a decade of policy debates and negotiations between the FCC and the television broadcast industry on how to move the industry from analog to digital broadcasting technologies.

To facilitate the transition, the FCC provided each qualified broadcaster with 6 MHz of spectrum for digital broadcasting to replace licenses of 6 MHz that were used for analog broadcasting. The analog licenses would be yielded back when the transition to digital television was concluded. The completed transition freed up the 700 MHz band for commercial and public safety communications in 2009.