FCC Considering Sanctions for DTV Laggards

The Federal Communications Commission outlined a possible schedule of actions against network-affiliated commercial broadcasters in the top 30 markets who still have not begun broadcasting digital signals.

Nine such stations of 119 have missed their October 2001 deadline for digital build-out. In a unanimous action at its monthly meeting, the commission granted those stations six additional months to begin digital broadcasts. The commission refused, however, to allow these large-market stations to go on-air with the minimal signal coverage that smaller market stations are permitted to start with.

The FCC also said it would consider a set of possible sanctions against broadcasters that fail to meet their deadline or come up with an adequate excuse. First, the FCC could deny and formally admonish an offending station and give an additional extension of no more than six months. Second, the FCC could deliver a notice of liability and demand progress reports every 30 days. And third, the FCC could let a station's digital Construction Permit expire, possibly leading to revocation of the DTV license.