FCC Outlines Reasons for DTV Extension Decisions

The FCC has released the Order detailing its rationale behind the extensions and admonishments given TV stations requesting third extensions of their May 1, 2002 DTV construction deadline. The Order goes into much more detail than the News Release described in last week's RF Report. The reasons for each station's extension were detailed.

Some of the reasons were obvious -- the impact of 9/11 on New York City DTV and the tower site disputes in Denver, for example. A common thread in all the extensions was documentation of efforts taken to complete construction or of events outside the control of the station. In one case, WJFB ordered a DTV transmitter and the equipment supplier had confirmed delivery, but subsequently the supplier declared bankruptcy and failed to deliver the transmitter. WJFB-DT purchased a second transmitter from a new manufacturer and was in the process of installing it. Weather was accepted in some cases. A lightning strike delayed construction for KLWY-DT. Two typhoons caused significant damage to the facilities of KUAM(TV) in Guam. Snowfall at a mountain tower site delayed construction of KBZK-DT in Bozeman, Mont. Wild fires caused delays in construction at KGUN-DT in Tucson, Ariz. KDOC-TV received an extension because a consortium of stations constructing a multi-user tower and antenna at Mount Wilson "experienced an unforeseen technical problem with the proposed antenna that had to be reconfigured to increase replication. This required modifying the stations' DTV construction permits." Several stations were granted extensions due to financial difficulties, including documented financing restrictions imposed by a lender and delays in obtaining bank loans.

As for the stations that were admonished, the Order said, "Upon examination of their extension applications, we have determined that seven stations have not justified their failure to complete construction of their DTV facilities." WSJU-DT in San Juan, PR, was admonished because the reason for the extension was exactly the same as the one used in the previous extension request and while the station indicated its antenna did not arrive until one month before it filed the extension request, "no other information was provided concerning the station's construction efforts or whether the delays were unforeseeable or outside of its control." WVUE-DT said it would be filing an application for DTV facilities at another location, but no application has been filed. As a result, the FCC said, "We do not find that WVUE-DT has taken all necessary steps to complete construction of its DTV facilities." WDWL-DT in Bayamon, PR, made no attempt to construct its DTV facilities on channel 59, claiming that since an auction was recently conducted for Channel 59 in Puerto Rico, even if it had built a DTV facility it would "likely be displaced" by the auction winner. The FCC pointed out this conclusion was erroneous and "Although the station claims to be committed to the digital conversion, it has done nothing to support this statement."

The remaining four stations admonished by the FCC, KMVU-DT Medford, Ore.; WKBW-DT Buffalo, NY; WICZ-DT Binghamton, NY; and WJAR-DT, Providence, RI "provided little support for their third extension requests," according to the FCC Order. "Little explanation was given by these stations for their inability to place their stations into operation since the grant of their last extension request. Although these stations claim that there were delays in construction, they provided little or no support for their contentions nor did they explain what steps they had taken to reduce the delays. Stations may not rely on unsupported delays to justify an extension."

For more information, see the Order FCC 03-250.