Deadline Extended for DTV-Impact Comments


The Federal Communications Commission has agreed to give broadcasters extra time to comment on its inquiry into the digital transition, but only one-half as much time as the National Association of Broadcasters wanted.

The commission has proposed to reclassify digital households to include cable households that receive a digital signal that has been converted to analog. Under that new definition, the 85% digital penetration threshold for turning off analog service would be advanced, but that would leave 15% of broadcast-only households scrambling to buy new sets or converter boxes or do without.

Those who could not afford the new equipment would be left out unless the government subsidized them.

As a result of concerns over the have-nots raised by broadcasters and Congress, the FCC issued a public notice in May into how many households are broadcast-only, why they are broadcast-only--i.e. choice, economics--and what the commission should do to minimize impacts on those households and others during the digital switch.

Initially, comments were due July 12 and replies Aug. 5. NAB asked for another 60 days for each deadline to do more research and prepare its comments. The FCC gave it another 30, until Aug. 11 and Sept. 7, respectively.