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FCC OKs Most Time Extensions to Build DTV Facilities

The FCC considered requests by stations to extend their DTV construction deadline, according to agenda items in the March 10 Open Commission Meeting. The Orders granting or denying the extensions were released last week.

Nine commercial TV stations were granted six-month extensions due to uncontrollable or unforeseeable delays. WKTV-DT (Utica, N.Y.) and WTGL-DT (Cocoa, Fla.) were granted extensions due to delays in obtaining their FCC construction permits. KPXN-DT (San Bernardino, Calif.) said it had completed preparations for construction but was at the mercy of the company it hired to build its tower. The landowner of the site for a collocated tower facility on Mount Mansfield has refused to sign an agreement with the state, delaying construction of WCAX-DT (Burlington, Vt.). A dispute with the tower owner has delayed construction of WPGC-DT. Legal litigation created a cloud on the ownership of WVAG-DT and delayed its construction. The situation has been resolved, the station has ordered its DTV equipment and is now working to complete a lease for its tower site. The electrical grid serving the WVXF-DT (Charlotte Amalie, Virgin Islands) transmitter site had insufficient capacity to handle both analog and digital transmitters, delaying construction. The new owner of the station is replacing the analog transmitter with a more efficient transmitter, which will allow operation of both transmitters from the same site. Electrical power also caused problems for WRFB-DT in Carolina, Puerto Rico. The station has its DTV equipment in place but has experienced delays obtaining a permit from local authorities for use of electric power at its transmitter site. WFLI-DT (Cleveland, Tenn.) was recently sold and the new owner has taken the necessary steps to have the DTV equipment installed in spring 2005.

The FCC only recently granted fourteen stations a construction permit, modification, STA or petition for rule making. These stations were given six-month extensions. They are KATN-DT, KJUD-DT, KTUU-DT and KTVA-DT in Alaska plus KJRR-DT (N.D.), KLTV-DT (Texas), KVTV-DT (Texas), WABG-DT (Miss.), WDFX-DT (Ala.), WFGX-DT (Fla.), WGSA-DT (Ga.), WJSU-DT (Ala.), WVIB-DT (Fla.) and WVNS-DT (W.V.).

The FCC allowed six-month extensions for stations unable to complete construction of their DTV facilities due to financial difficulties. The stations are WRJM-DT (Ala.), WENY-DT (N.Y.), WAKA-DT (Ala.), WYLE-DT (Ala.), WCVI-DT (Virgin Islands), WEUX-DT (Wis.), KPCB-DT (Texas) and WFXU-DT (Fla).

In granting the extensions, the FCC Order said that timely implementation of DTV is the key to the success of a nationwide DTV system. The commission determined that "rapid build-out ensures that the recovery of broadcast spectrum for future uses occurs as quickly as possible" and expects stations to provide detailed, documented justification for further construction delays.
"Only when we receive a fully supported request, will we allow an additional extension of the construction period."

KUAM-DT, Agana, Guam was admonished for not providing sufficient justification for its delay in constructing DTV facilities. The FCC Order said, "While we acknowledge the obstacles faced by Guam stations, KUAM-DT has not explained whether it has taken any steps within its control to complete construction of its DTV facilities. Stations may not simply rely on financial hardship as their excuse for failing to complete DTV construction in a timely fashion...Furthermore, while KUAM-DT states that it is pursuing a channel modification, no such application has been filed nor has the station explained why it has been unable to complete this task."

For details, see Order FCC-05-67.

For information on the 43 extension requests granted to noncommercial DTV stations and the two stations that were admonished for not meeting the deadlines, refer to Order FCC-05-69. The two non-commercial stations that were admonished both claimed they were unable to complete construction because of delays by a third-party installation company. The FCC said, however, that WYDN-DT, Worcester, Mass. and KWDK-DT, Tacoma, Wash. "failed to explain why they did not take steps to expedite construction or to force the installation company to timely complete their DTV facilities... These stations also did not adequately address whether they had taken all necessary steps to further their DTV construction. "