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Powell: No DTV deadline waiver

Las Vegas - FCC Chairman Michael Powell recognizes that small market stations will have trouble meeting the 2002 build out deadline, but doesn't want to take any action that would relieve the pressure on broadcasters today. "I won't pronounce now that we will waive the deadline," he told the NAB Tuesday morning.

Already the FCC has power to grant individual waivers on a case-by case basis and, at the moment, he recognizes the FCC may have to brace for a mountain of individual requests. Still, without a timeframe to shoot for, stations will have less incentive to push forward with the expensive build out and development of digital programming, he said.

"You have to worry because it's an expensive transition everyone has committed to," Powell said. "Some people do have to drive in the form of leadership. I think broadcasters will nobly stay in the lead."
- Bill McConnell