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Truck Stop TV Tries Again

The Flying J Truck Stops continue to try to tailor TV to its mobile audience, potentially at the expense of TV newsgatherers says broadcasters' spectrum watchdog group.

On Wednesday, the FCC sought comment on whether parent company Clarity Media should be given waivers to allow it to operate a low-power multichannel digital TV service at 10 of its truck plazas using the cable TV relay service spectrum band, which is used by broadcasters extensively for electronic newsgathering.

Flying J wants to be able to relay satellite TV to the sets in the cabs of trucks parked for a break or the night--most have overnight cabs with many of the comforts of home, including TV.

The Association of Maximum Service Television (MSTV) is very concerned about the proposal and potential interference to newsgathering. MSTV President David Donovan points out that if there is an emergency, say a big traffic accident, the trucker TV service could prevent the news from getting back to the station if the truck stop was between the story and the station.

Back in May, various cable and broadcast networks sued the truck stop chain for substituting its own commercials for network ads in the common areas of its truck stops, service it sells to advertisers as Plaza TV.

The plaintiffs, which include ABC, CBS, Fox, and Turner, want the court to permanently enjoin the Flying J from replacing their ads with ones for trucker magazines and the like, as well as seeking unspecified damages and attorneys fees.