NAB shifts digital deadline tact

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The National Association of Broadcasters TV Board Wednesday decided against asking the FCC to delay small market stations' May 2002 deadline for rolling out digital TV service.

The NAB had been expected to make the request on grounds that there is neither the equipment nor the profit margins in their small markets to make the switch in such a short time. But the NAB instead chose to stick to the timetable for now and continue fighting for new DTV obligations on cable systems and TV set makers. By sticking to the government's timetable, broadcasters may gain a more receptive audience from the FCC, sources said.

Specifically, the NAB wants the government to mandate dual cable carriage for both analog and DTV signals during the transition to all-digital broadcasting, require DTV tuners in nearly all new TV sets, and establish rules for DTV/cable interoperability. The TV board also encouraged programmers to "dramatically increase" DTV content, including HDTV, interactive TV and multicasting opportunities. - Bill McConnell

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