FCC Denies DTV Build-Out Extensions

The FCC has denied requests from 50 stations asking for an extra six months to construct DTV facilities that the Commission had mandated should be finished by the May 1 deadline.

According to letters denying the requests, the Commission said it would review each station's request on a case-by-case basis, and would extend DTV construction deadlines if the delays were beyond the broadcaster's control, provided that the broadcasters had "taken all reasonable steps to resolve the problem expeditiously."

Out of more than 700 stations that applied for DTV construction deadline extensions, the FCC found that 50 stations had not "taken all reasonable steps," and stipulated a number of reasons for the rejections. A common theme was that many stations had presented inadequate and unsubstantial evidence backing up their claims of difficulty in constructing DTV facilities, including financial hardships, incomplete studies and other reasons. Many stations also did not present concrete plans for going through with the build-out.

The admonished stations must now complete construction by December 1, and must file one report within 30 days outlining its construction plans and another letter 60 days later detailing a progress report. If, during this period, the FCC finds that a station is still not meeting its responsibilities, sanctions may be imposed. If construction is not completed by December 1, the FCC may impose fines and begin a process that could lead to the revocation of the DTV construction permit.