NEW YORK — Former Federal Communications Commission Chairman Richard Wiley said the 2006 deadline for broadcasters to convert their analog stations to digital now appears unlikely to be met.
Speaking on a panel at the Salomon Smith Barney/Broadcasting & Cable Magazine-sponsored media conference called “The Big Picture,” Wiley said a series of unforeseen obstacles make the original timetable “highly problematic.”
Wiley, who is now a law partner in the communications field, listed disagreements between broadcasters and cable operators over interoperability carriage, problematic early receiving devices from the consumer electronics manufacturers, and the lack of consensus on a digital interface and a digital copy right issues with contributing to transition tardiness.
The single biggest factor, he said, is lack of compelling digital programming to drive set sales.
Bob Wright, NBC Network president, said many issues have yet to be sorted out, and the process will take time.