Broadcasters Seek DTV-Simulcast Delay

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Facing a deadline in three months, commercial TV stations are looking for a
way around a federal rule that requires simulcasting of some analog programming
on their new digital-TV signals.

In a recent filing, the National Association of Broadcasters asked Federal
Communications Commission officials to considering dropping or delaying the
simulcast requirement.

The NAB, however, did not state in the Dec. 19 filing its reason for seeking
to dump or delay the simulcast rules.

Under FCC policies, TV stations have until April to ensure that 50 percent of
their analog programming is simulcast on the digital channel. In 2004, the quota
rises to 75 percent, and in 2005 to 100 percent.

The FCC adopted the simulcast rule in April 1997 on the theory that TV
viewers would be reluctant to purchase digital receivers if that meant losing
access to programs offered exclusively on the analog channel.

In a concession to broadcasters, the FCC put off the simulcast requirement
for several years. In 1992, the National Cable & Telecommunications
Association urged the FCC to impose a simulcast mandate from the outset, saying
that it would promote the overall analog-to-digital
transition.

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