FCC Bars Analog-Station Shutoff

A TV station in Southern California has been ordered to continue analog
broadcasting even though the station wanted to shift to all-digital broadcasting
effective Jan. 1.

Station KVMD in Twentynine Palms, Calif., was poised to become the first
station in the country to make the digital transition and surrender its analog

But the Federal Communications Commission's Media Bureau ruled that because a
significant number of persons -- about 60,000 -- would lose access to KVMD's
analog station, it would not allow the station to discontinue analog

The ruling, issued in a Dec. 19 letter to the station's attorney, came in the
context of a must-carry dispute between KVMD and several cable companies.

KVMD sought to drop its analog
signal in order to make its digital signal eligible for cable carriage in
analog format.

The station said its powerful digital signal would give it access to an
additional 4.8 million persons in cable homes.

Time Warner Cable, AT&T Broadband and smaller cable systems affected by
KVMD's broader carriage plans resisted and sought to delete their systems from
KVMD's market.

The FCC did not act on the conflicting must-carry
claims. With the agency ordering KVMD to continue analog broadcasting, KVMD has
no authority under FCC rules to seek cable carriage of its digital signal.