Public TV is Slow to Convert


Less than one-half of the nation's public television stations made the May 1 federal deadline to begin transmitting digital-TV signals, a public broadcasting official said last week in comments that also pinned blame on the cable industry for the delay.

Public broadcasting expects 152 stations — 43% — to have made the transition by May 1, Association of Public Television Stations president and CEO John Lawson said.

In the past, the APTS predicted that up to 75 percent would make the deadline.

"There is obviously a problem with our survey methodology," Lawson said.

The stations that didn't make it filed extensions with the Federal Communications Commission, which is expected to give them another year before it tightens the noose.

The 195 extensions that were filed cited weather, legal, technical, construction and financial difficulties, Lawson said.

"Our stations are completely committed to the transition, but they encountered greater problems than they expected in actually getting across the finish line," he added.

Under FCC rules, commercial stations faced a similar deadline May 1, 2002, but 843 — nearly two-thirds — sought extensions of time.