Small stations: FCC delay policy too harsh

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A group of TV-station owners is asking the Federal Communications Commission
to ease proposed sanctions on stations that can't defend their
digital-television delays.

Brunson Communications, Pollack/Belz Communication Co. Inc. and Sunbelt Multimedia -- each owners of single stations -- complained that the FCC's plan to strip
stations of their licenses if they fail to bring digital service online,
according to an FCC monitoring process designed for digital-TV laggards, is too
harsh.

"The harm that approach would cause vastly outweighs any benefit from
bullying them into attempting to offer digital service prematurely," attorney
Stuart Nolan Jr. wrote in comments submitted to the FCC on the broadcasters'
behalf.

Brunson owns WGTW(TV) Burlington, N.J., which operates on channel 48 and is
part of the Philadelphia market.

Brunson was denied a request for a six-month waiver to the May 1 deadline for
inaugurating digital-TV service.

Pollack/Belz owns KLAX-TV Alexandria, La., and Sunbelt operates KTLM(TV) Rio
Grande City, Texas. Both stations were granted extensions, but they will have to
prove specific "extraordinary and compelling" circumstances to receive
another.

Although the three owners were the only ones to criticize the FCC's tough
stance on digital-TV laggards, a sizable chunk of smaller broadcasters are likely to
face sanctions in the ensuing year if advertising and prospects for digital-TV
viewership don't pick up.

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