Public stations get break on DTV simulcast quota

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Public TV stations, facing a deadline Thursday for inaugurating digital
service, got a break Tuesday on a portion of their digital-television
obligations.

The Federal Communications Commission agreed to give them another six months
before requirements to simulcast programming aired on their analog operations.

Previously, stations were to match 50 percent of their analog schedule in
digital beginning May 1.

The simulcasting mandate now kicks in Nov. 1.

The FCC said the delay was warranted because for many stations, meeting the
simulcasting quota at the same time they were launching digital TV was too heavy a
burden.

Also, the simulcasting mandate is currently being reconsidered by the
commission.

Paxson Communications Corp., however, lost its bid for a one-year delay in
simulcasting requirements for commercial stations, which climbed to 50 percent
April 1.

Paxson wanted to continue airing digital TV only during prime time, whereas the
simulcasting mandate would require a fourfold increase in its stations' digital-TV
operations.

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