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Network Affiliates Receive FCC Waivers

The Federal Communications Commission gave a handful of network affiliates, including WNBC-DT, another six-month waiver of a rule that could have allowed satellite-TV viewers in their markets to receive stations with similar network programming imported from another market.

Also granted waivers were digital stations WSMH Flint, Mich. (Fox); KFTR Ontario, Calif. (TeleFutura); and KOGG Honolulu (NBC).

Satellite operators can import a similar distant DTV-station signal to viewers who cannot receive a sufficiently strong signal from their local affiliate, based on satellite-company testing of those signals. The waiver means that signal testing cannot begin on the stations until at least Oct. 31.

All four stations have had problems getting their DTV signals up and running at full strength and coverage.

KNBC, for example, is still feeling the effects of the 9/11 attacks that destroyed the communications towers atop the World Trade Center. It cited the fact that the Freedom Tower, which will be the new home of its DTV antenna, has yet to be built.

Raycom Media's KOGG said it was still awaiting U.S. Fish and Wildlife approval of its transmitter site.

The FCC allows waivers for a variety of reasons, including zoning or environmental impediments, cutting power so as not to interfere with first-responders and "force majeure," which WNBC invoked, the legal term (French for "greater force") that covers unforeseeable events like hurricanes, floods and terrorist attacks.