Broadcasters Seek DTV Simulcast Delay


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

In a Dec. 19 filing, the National Association of Broadcasters asked Federal Communications Commission officials to considering dropping or delaying the simulcast requirement.

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

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 agency to impose a simulcast mandate from the outset, saying it would promote the overall digital transition.