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Digital TV delay gets Obama OK

February 12, 2009|Jim Puzzanghera

WASHINGTON — President Obama made the digital TV delay official Wednesday, signing legislation to put off the switch until June 12, the White House said.

He and Congress hope to give millions of unprepared viewers four more months to upgrade their equipment so they don't lose over-the-air programming.

Although the major TV stations in Los Angeles won't turn off their analog signals until the new deadline, the law allows stations to apply to switch on the original date -- at the end of the day Tuesday -- or any time before June 12.

More than a quarter of the nation's 1,749 full-power stations have applied for permission to turn off their analog signals on the original date. They include Fox, CBS and ABC affiliates in San Diego; NBC, ABC, CBS and Telemundo affiliates in Santa Barbara; and KJLA and KHIZ, independent stations in Los Angeles.

But the Federal Communications Commission, concerned that all major network affiliates in some markets want to turn off their analog signals next week, told 123 of the 491 stations seeking waivers that they first must comply with several conditions.

One is a requirement that at least one station in the market continue analog broadcasts of local news and public affairs programming, as well as emergency and digital TV transition information for at least 60 days.

The NBC, ABC and CBS stations in Santa Barbara are among those 123 stations.

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jim.puzzanghera@latimes.com

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