NAB backs digital break for small stations


The NAB board next week is likely to offically ask the FCC to delay the May 2002 digital build-out for small-market TV stations, sources say.

"I would not be surprised if the board took some action regarding the deadline," said NAB Joint Board Chairman Jim Yager. The NAB had no comment. The NAB's annual summer board meeting is in Washington, D.C., next week. As of May 15, 2001, 195 TV stations are broadcasting in digital in 65 markets, including stations in markets as small as Salisbury, Md., which is market 162 out of 211.

The conversion to digital is much more expensive for stations in small markets because it costs them as much to convert as stations in big markets, but with less resources and smaller profit margins. Broadcasters have been hinting for the past several months that it will be impossible for all stations to be airing digitally by 2002, but no official statement has yet been made. - Paige Albiniak