U.S. regulators are scrutinizing bids by hundreds of TV stations that want to broadcast in all digital next week, to prevent millions of households from losing television access, Reuters reports. Regulators were caught off guard by the steep number of stations that want to transition early, even after lawmakers delayed a mandatory nationwide switch to digital TV broadcasting until June 12. In markets that would be left with few or no local analog broadcasting options, the requests might be denied, acting FCC Chairman Michael Copps told reporters Feb. 11. The U.S. House of Representatives last week completed action on legislation to delay the mandatory change, which had been scheduled for Feb. 17, by four months. President Barack Obama signed the bill late on Feb. 11. Obama said "millions of Americans, including those in our most vulnerable communities, would have been left in the dark if the conversion had gone on as planned." Major U.S. television networks, including CBS, NBC, and ABC, vowed last week to continue to transmit TV signals in analog until the new deadline. But the networks own only about 100 of the 1,800 or so broadcast television stations in the United States, according to an industry group. About 681 of the nearly 1,800 television broadcast stations already have stopped broadcasting in older, analog signals, or will by next week, the FCC said Feb. 10. In fewer than 20 markets, viewers might be without any local options at all, according to the FCC. That amounts to about 2.3 million households…

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