FCC Grants 1st Analog-TV Shutdown

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In a move likely to spark interest at Comcast Corp., the Federal
Communications Commission has for the first time granted permission to a TV
station to cease analog broadcasting prior to the formal conclusion of the
transition to digital television.

The station, WWAC-53 in Atlantic City, N.J., is a full-power UHF station in
the Philadelphia TV market. The independent station is owned by Lenfest
Broadcasting LLC.

Under the FCC's Sept. 24 ruling, WWAC may cease analog transmission at any
time and serve the public only with its digital service, which began operation
in August.

After surrendering its analog license, WWAC can demand that local cable
operators carry its digital signal in analog. Because WWAC's
digital-transmission tower is situated 35 miles closer to inner-city
Philadelphia than its analog tower, WWAC expects to see its access to
Philadelphia cable subscribers to grow to 1.8 million from 575,000.

As the dominant cable operator in the Philadelphia market, Comcast would need
to find a valuable analog-channel position for WWAC. The FCC said WWAC needs to
supply cable operators with digital-to-analog-converter equipment for use at the
headend.

WWAC general manager Bob Lund said he was in no rush to shut down the analog
service because the company had to consider the impact of such a move on the
2,677 households in its market that are solely reliant upon off-the-air
TV.

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