About 400 local TV stations will miss a key federal digital-TV-transition
deadline next May, five years after gaining free spectrum from the Federal
Communications Commission, the National Association of Broadcasters said
All 1,288 commercial TV stations are required to be beaming digital signals
by May 1, 2002. Casting the best light on a new station survey, the NAB said 68
percent of stations -- 875 -- would in fact make the deadline.
But that also means 413 stations, or 32 percent, will miss it. The number of
stations the NAB projected to miss the deadline is slightly more than twice the
number -- 202 -- already beaming digital signals.
With 232 days remaining until next May 1, about 3.7 stations would have to
commence digital service each day for the NAB's survey results to be proven
The association has already asked the FCC to establish a simple process for
stations to seek deadline extensions. The NAB told the agency that about
one-half of the stations that said they won't make the deadline in the survey
would need no more than another 12 months.
In a press release, the trade group said stations that are expected to miss
the deadline plan to be on the air in digital 'within months' of May 1. NAB
president Edward Fritts said these stations were 'in the pipeline,' waiting for
equipment deliveries to arrive.
By next May, the association noted, '19 of 20 (95.8 percent) of the nation's
television homes would be in markets served by at least one digital signal.'
The NAB is careful to express the available of digital-TV signals in terms of
markets where the stations operate. Under that formulation, the trade group is
not saying that 19 of 20 TV households would be able to receive digital-TV
signals if each one had a digital television set.
'Our government needs to address how to get those homes connected to DTV on
the receiving end,' said Fritts, who wants the FCC to mandate the installation
of digital-TV receivers in nearly all new TV sets.
The NAB turned over its survey results to the FCC in a 10-page report. The
survey included responses from 785 stations in 167 out of 210 markets. The
association said it attempted to contact 'all full-power commercial television
stations with a known telephone number.'