TV Petitions FCC: Keep February Digital Date

analog tv shutting offMore than one-third of all TV stations have asked the Federal Communications Commission to continue with its transition to all-digital signals on Feb. 17. The dissent comes despite a Federal bill that was passed by Congress recently that would push the new date to June 12.

Right now, the FCC has identified 491 stations that have asked to keep the original deadline. They want to keep transmission costs low, rather than send out dual analog and digital signals.

Some silver-lining news for TV networks attempting to gauge the effect of the change--almost all are in smaller markets. The biggest TV market where multiple stations are looking to keep the same early date is Tampa-St. Petersburg--the 13th-largest market with 1.8 million TV homes, which is 1.59% of all U.S. television homes. Stations looking for a change in Tampa include the CW, PBS, ABC and MyNetworkTV affiliates.



To date, 190 stations made the change to all digital signals before Congress and the Obama Administration lobbied to delay. Their concern was the millions of U.S. households that only receive analog signals and have not made the necessary changes to digital service and/or TV sets. Overall, there are nearly 1,800 broadcast stations.

As of early Wednesday, acting FCC Chairman Michael Copps did not know when and if the FCC would allow the 491 stations to make the early switch. As a result of the new bill, Copps says there is tremendous confusion in the marketplace. But he noted that the turmoil would have been worse if the Feb.17 date went forward unchanged.

Copps said he does not know why the Obama Administration has yet to sign the bill into law that would move the date.

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