Stations to miss digital date

Two stations, NBC and ABC affiliates, behind sked

WASHINGTON — At least two of the first 24 stations scheduled to go on the air with a digital signal on Nov. 1 have told the FCC that they won’t make the deadline.

NBC’s Chicago affiliate WMAQ and CBS’ Detroit affiliate WWJ informed the FCC last week that they will not be on the air by the voluntary deadline.

NBC revealed its troubles in Detroit in a letter to the FCC, which had asked the broadcasters to file regular status reports on the digital build-out effort. Like other networks, NBC was required to inform the FCC last week about the status of its digital construction schedule.

WMAQ cited problems negotiating a leasing agreement with its landlord at the station’s current antenna site. In a letter to the FCC, NBC wrote, “WMAQ-TV will not be able to complete construction of its DTV facilities by Nov. 1, 1998.”

In Detroit, troubles with local zoning officials slowed down the construction of a digital antenna for CBS affiliate WWJ-TV. Those issues have now been resolved, but CBS notified the commission last week that the delay will force it to miss the Nov. 1 deadline which it imposed on itself.