FCC Rejects Appeals from DTV Latecomers

The FCC rejected appeals from 19 Trinity Broadcast Network television stations protesting the formal admonishments they received from the commission after they failed to justify why they missed the May 2002 deadline for DTV build-out.

In June, the FCC admonished the Trinity stations and warned that they could face further sanctions if they failed to complete their digital build-outs within six months (by December 2002). At the time, a lawyer for Trinity said most stations would be on the air in time to meet that deadline, and FCC records show at least some purchases of DTV broadcast equipment. Trinity also requested reconsideration of the admonishment; but in an Oct. 15 order, the FCC stood by its warning.

Trinity's apparent expectation that it could miss the deadline without ramifications was "baseless and mistaken," the FCC Media Bureau said.

"If it continues to miss deadlines imposed by the commission on its DTV build out, it will be subject to additional sanctions," the order stated.

Trinity broadcasts mostly religious-themed programming and attorney Colby May has said that while the network will comply with FCC rules, it would prefer to spend money on "good works" and improved programming. Trinity's Web site includes opposition to DTV transition policy and encourages viewers to write to Congress in protest.

Also Oct. 15, the FCC stood by its admonishments of five other stations that missed the deadline without good cause.

WCHS (Charleston, W.V.) argued that it did not receive its DTV construction permit until May 2001 and that it needed to file an application for a minor tower modification in July 2002. But the FCC said WCHS failed to adequately anticipate the heavy demand on engineers during the DTV conversion and has provided overly optimistic timelines for its build-out. "WCHS's delays either arose from its own actions or from a situation which it easily could have foreseen," the FCC said.

WSYT (Syracuse, N.Y.) also created its own problems, the FCC said. WXXV (Waco, Texas) was also overly optimistic about its build-out timeline and KQCA (Stockton, Calif.), although it is now transmitting DTV from a sister station to the Sacramento market, caused its own delay by failing to negotiate earlier with its tower contractor, the FCC said.