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Four Left in Digital Doghouse

Three of the seven stations "admonished" by the FCC last October for not having a DTV signal up and running say they are now on-air. The rest have promised to meet or beat the FCC's "April or else" deadline.

"Or else" is a fine and, ultimately, license forfeiture.

The three out of the FCC's digital doghouse are Northwest Broadcasting's KMVU-DT Medford, Ore., and WICZ-DT Binghamton, N.Y., and Bayamon Christian Network's WDWL-DT Bayamon, P.R.

That leaves Emmis's WVUE-DT New Orleans, Granite's WKBW-DT Buffalo, N.Y., NBC's WJAR-DT Providence, R.I., and WSJU-DT San Juan, P.R., as the only remaining extension-seekers without either a reprieve or a DTV signal on the air. Those not on the air had to file a report with the FCC last month outlining their progress.

According to an NBC spokeswoman, WJAR-DT told the FCC that the station will be on-air by March 15, several weeks before the April deadline. She attributed the delays to "unforeseen tower and safety issues, as well as inclement weather."

WKBW-DT General Manager Bill Ransom said Buffalo's crazy weather was part of the reason for the delays in getting his signal up also but the message to the FCC is that the station will be on-air by the deadline. "We're almost there."

In Emmis's case, the FCC said WVUE-DT had failed to file certain modification applications related to its use of a co-located tower. The station group has since filed them. It told the FCC in November that it would be up and running by the April deadline. A station source confirmed that the timetable was still on target, although it depends on getting state and local building-permit approvals by Feb. 1. Transmitter installation is slated for March.

WSJU-DT attorney John Borsari says that, in early January, the station filed its request for temporary authority to operate a low-power digital signal. "They're ready to throw the switch," he said. He has also filed a petition for reconsideration of the admonishment. "We don't think it was fair."

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.