Money, Not Waiver, For NY TVs


It looks like New York City TV stations will probably have to meet the same hard date for the DTV transition as other stations, but will get some government assistance to do so.

Last week, Rep Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.),  proposed that the city should get a waiver from the proposed House DTV transition bill's December 2008 hard date, otherwise "a large part of the New York Metropolitan area will wake up to blank TV screens after the Dec. 31, 2008 conversion to digital TV broadcast."

Using terms like "devastate," "disastrous" and "treacherous," the president of LIN TV's WTNH/WCTX New Haven, Conn., with the unofficial blessing of the state broadcast association, had written key senators and congressmen from Connecticut and elsewhere to oppose the waiver from the DTV transition hard date for New York stations.

LIN was not opposed to the waiver if its stations get the same deal, though it says that would start a chain reaction with other stations. But WTNH/WCTX GM Jon Hitchcock is concerned about the "substantial number" of people who will resist the change or not have the means to make it. "I am sensitive to New York's issues," Hitchcock told B&C, "but maybe there is a better alternative plan."

Apparently, there is.

Instead, Engel and Telecommunications Subcommittee Chairman Fred Upton are expected to introduce an amendment to the House DTV transition bill Wednesday that would carve out some money to help those New York broadcasters catch up with other stations and meet the deadline.