43 TV stations delay analog shutdown until June

NEW YORK (AP) - An intervention by the Federal Communications Commission just days before nearly 500 television stations had planned to turn off their analog signals has resulted in 43 stations delaying their cutoffs until June, the agency said late Friday.

Stations that are postponing their analog shutdowns from Feb. 17 until June 12 are in and around Bakersfield, Calif.; Billings, Mont.; Charleston, W.V.; Dayton, Ohio; Eugene, Ore.; Lincoln, Neb.; Mobile, Ala.; Wichita, Kan., among others.

While most of the country's 1,796 full-power TV stations accepted an extension of analog transmissions until June 12 voted through by Congress and signed into law this week, 491 applied to keep the original cutoff date.

About 190 stations have already cut their analog signals.

Concerned that the number of stations sticking to the Feb. 17 shutdown would mean that some areas would be left without major-network broadcasts in analog, the FCC on Wednesday imposed extra conditions on 106 stations planning to go early. It had originally said 123 would turn off early.

Of the 106 stations, 53 said they would comply with the conditions for an early shutdown. Ten more pleaded that economic hardship or technical reasons forced them to go early.

The agency said it would review those pleadings over the weekend.

The reversal of the 43 stations' plans means that about 35 percent of U.S. full-power TV stations would be digital-only on Feb. 18. Big-city stations are largely keeping their analog signals until June.

Markets where many or all major-network stations still plan to turn off analog transmissions next week are San Diego and Santa Barbara, Calif.; Providence, R.I.; La Crosse and Madison, Wis.; Rockford, Ill.; Sioux City, Iowa; Waco, Texas; Macon, Ga.; Scranton, Pa.; and Burlington, Vt.