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WBOC fires back in DTV-interference battle

The high-profile skirmish over alleged digital-TV interference to an analog
station raged on last week.

WBOC-TV Salisbury, Md., which brought the original complaint to the Federal
Communications Commission, filed a reply July 3 to the June 21 reply of
noncommercial WHRO-DT Hampton Roads, Va.

WHRO had told the FCC that it had complied with the agency's regulations,
that WBOC-TV had not demonstrated a reception problem that required FCC
intervention and that even if it had, 'there is no legal basis for the FCC to
declare WHRO-DT to be `at fault'... so long as WHRO-DT's facilities are in
compliance with FCC rules.'

In a 98-page document, WBOC-TV's attorneys argued that WHRO's response is
wrong 'as a matter of policy and law' and 'does not make sense.'

WBOC-TV submitted additional evidence of harm, including interference
reports, electronic mails, charts and a sworn statement from a Comcast Corp.
executive saying that the MSO 'has observed significant levels of interference
with WBOC-TV's signal from late April through the present' (July 3), and that
'over 2,000 complaints regarding WBOC-TV's picture' have been received from
cable viewers.

Some feared that the battle between a couple of stations on the Maryland and
Virginia shores could be the first volley in a protracted war.

'I think it's inevitable that there are going to be a lot of these problems,
and a lot of it was predicted,' said William Meintel, president of Chantilly,
Va.-based TechWare, which created the software the FCC used to make the
digital-TV-propagation tables.

'We just haven't seen it because there aren't a lot of stations on the air
and an even smaller number on-air at their full power,' he added. 'And I think
that once these stations start firing up with their full-power signals, we'll
see a lot of interference to NTSC [National Television Systems Committee], and
it may be worse than what was originally predicted.'