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Analog Nightlights Go Out

The other analog plug-pulling hard date came and went Sunday night without fanfare.

July 12 was the date when all the analog nightlight TV stations, 121 stations in 87 markets at its peak according to the FCC, had to end their analog broadcasts because it would have been illegal to continue past that date.

They had agreed, at the FCC's urging, to continue to broadcast an analog signal for up to 30 days past the statutory June 12 hard date for ending analog broadcasts. That signal was to be a lifeline service of DTV transition info, news and information in the event of emergency.

"They are all supposed to be off by yesterday," said FCC spokesman David Fiske of the nightlight stations. "They signed up for a particular date, no later than July 12. We are not checking unless someone reports a station continuing to broadcast a full-power analog signal." Fiske said he knew of no reports of stations leaving their analog nightlights on.

That would be unlikely, not only as a matter of law but of economics, since those stations were absorbing additional transmission costs at a time when extra money is hard to come by.

While 1.7 million viewers still couldn't receive a digital signal as of July 1 according to Nielsen, former FCC Acting Chairman Michael Copps told B&C last week that there had not been any consideration of asking Congress to give broadcasters more analog nightlight time.

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.