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04 December 2023

Many local US TV stations to go ahead with DTV switch

By Reuters
About 40 per cent of the nation's TV stations will be broadcasting completely in digital signals next week, even after regulators delayed a mandatory nationwide switch to ‘DTV’ by months.

The Federal Communications Commission on Tuesday said that 681 of the nearly 1,800 television broadcast stations will have already stopped broadcasting in older, analogue signals, or will by next week.

The US House of Representatives last week voted to delay the mandatory change by four months - to June 12 from February 17. President Barack Obama is expected to sign the bill into law shortly. The switch is intended to free up spectrum for public safety and provide better television viewing.

But the delayed bill gave television stations, which say they've spent millions of dollars preparing and educating viewers for the switch-over, the option to transition to all digital on the original date, next Tuesday. Backers of the delay feared that 20 million, mostly poor, elderly or rural households, were not prepared due to a shortage of government coupons meant to defray the cost of converter boxes.

The major US television networks, CBS Corp, General Electric Co's NBC and Walt Disney Co's ABC, vowed last week to continue to transmit TV signals in analogue. According to an industry group, the networks own only about 100 of the 1,800 or so broadcast television stations in the US.

The FCC had given broadcasters a deadline of Monday, to notify it of any intentions to meet the original transition date, with the regulatory agency reserving the right to review their decisions.