Underscoring the snail-like rollout of US digital television, Wednesday’s federal deadline for broadcasting a dTV signal will be missed by nearly three-quarters of the TV stations it affects.

Seventy-four per cent of the 1,121 smaller stations expected under federal rules to begin some digital transmission by May 1 will fail to do so, according to a report by the General Accounting Office. Most are expected to begin dTV broadcasts by the end of the year.

Hundreds of stations have lately applied for extensions, many blaming the high cost of installing new equipment. This averages 63% of annual revenue, while dTV does not in itself generate extra cash.

Digital broadcasting has so far failed to capture the imagination of the American public, not least because of the high prices of compatible TV sets.

The launch of dTV stateside has been hampered by a lack of cooperation between broadcasters, set manufacturers, programmers and cable operators. Earlier this month, Federal Communications Commission chairman Michael Powell issued a series of targets he wants the different sectors within the industry to meet [WAMN: 05-Apr-02].

Data sourced from: BrandRepublic (UK); additional content by WARC staff