Broadcasters Fight Coverage Mandate

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Small-TV-group owners are asking Federal Communications Commission chairman Michael Powell to drop plans that would force stations to reach their complete licensed coverage area with digital-TV signals by a certain date or have that licensed coverage area reduced.

To save electric costs, many small stations today transmit lower power signals that reach only viewers in their primary communities, not outlying areas.

For the FCC, though, letting stations cut their DTV power doesn’t look good on Capitol Hill because lawmakers want progress on the transition, not stalling. But Raycom, owner of 39 small market stations, Maryland’s Draper Communications and Arizona State, operator of Phoenix public station KAET-TV, say it's unfair to reduce the official size of a station's market just for exercising its right to reduce power while the transition is under way.