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FCC Gives Stations More Time To Convert To Digital

The FCC has extended the deadline for the 145 TV stations who have yet to finish construction of their digital facilities to complete their transition. Two of the stations--WABC and WNBC in New York--had transitions affected by 9/11.  They will get more time to make the conversion.

The original deadlines for construction were July 1, 2005 for the stations affiliated with the top-four networks (ABC, CBS, Fox and NBC) in markets one to 100, and the deadline was July 1, 2006  for everybody else.
The FCC has granted extensions for a variety of reasons.  

The commission granted six-month extensions to 107 stations,  including WNBC, and gave until  Feb. 17, 2009 for 33 other stations.  Twenty-nine stations--including WABC--will be broadcasting after the DTV transition on a channel different than their current DTV channel.  Four of the 33 stations want to use the same top-mounted antenna location for their DTV signal that they use for their current analog signal. The FCC decided that in both cases, station deserved more time due to the construction problems those scenarios posed.

Finally, two stations were denied extensions but will be allowed to continue operating analog stations. Another three were denied applications and admonished--an official reprimand.

The commission also warned that it might have to get tougher with stations. It said that they had several years to plan for and finance the DTV construction, noting that many stations had received numerous extensions.

In a recent review of the progress of the DTV transition , the commission proposed toughening its standards for extensions, and that any further extensions may be subjected to a tougher standard.

The FCC says there are currently 1,702 stations licensed to broadcast in DTV, with 1,603 on the air with a signal . Some of the 145 stations seeking extensions are on the air, but do not meet the minimum build-out requirements for mandated power levels or coverage areas).