Jeff Smith 2 p.m., Dec. 12
So with the Feb 17 deadline just a mere five weeks away, there is talk in the radio gossip communities about President-elect Obama considering putting the pause on the Digital TV mandate.
Tom Taylor of radio-info states in his radio blog that pushing back the mandatory DTV date could affect a lot of radio stations too, as well as their budgets. Some radio stations in the Northeast U.S. and near the 87.7 MHz frequency where channel 6 broadcasts its audio have to null a side of their transmitters so that they would not interfere with the TV channel.
With most of all TV stations moving from the channel 2-6 range to UHF once they turn off their analog signals, the FMs are planning to take down the null so they could broadcast at higher power on the side they had to null.
Delaying the DTV date could mess up their plans for construction and new transmitter plans.
Washington is also facing a problem with running out of money for the $40 digital converter box coupons, and there is a fear that the poor, rural, and elderly won't be able to watch over-the-air TV anymore after the Feb 17 DTV date if they can't get a digital converter box. Some reports indicate that if they applied for the $40 coupons after last Tuesday, they won't arrive in time for the Feb 17 date. This could be a minor mess for the broadcast networks and independents as the ratings could take a 5-10 percent hit by my estimate, and that means less advertising rates that they could set for commercial spots.
That is the big picture of the DTV deadline. Delaying it could be a mess to the broadcasters. Enforcing the DTV date will mean loss of viewers who simply couldn't get a digital TV receiver on time.