Facing an April deadline that requires that they begin simulcasts of half their NTSC programming over their DTV stations, television broadcasters have asked the FCC for a delay. The simulcast schedule, defined in a Commission Final Report & Order, was designed to stimulate digital TV set sales by exposing consumers to digital television programming before the 2006 cutoff date for NTSC.
In late December the NAB asked the FCC to consider dropping or delaying the simulcast rule that was adopted in April 1997. Under DTV transition rules, broadcasters have until April to ensure that 50 percent of their analog programming is simulcast on the digital channel. In 2004, the quota rises to 75 percent and then to 100 in 2005.
The rule was created as a protection to buyers of DTV receivers. FCC members at the time wanted to make sure that owners of new sets would be able to receive programming that was available on existing analog channels. Without such a rule, the FCC was afraid consumers would resist buying new digital TV sets.
A spokesperson at the Commission would not comment on the NAB’s request.
For more information visit www.fcc.gov.