DTV Channel Plan to Get OK

The Federal Communications Commission is expected to sign off on a version of a broadcaster plan to prioritize the assignment of permanent digital-channel numbers.

The FCC, at its August meeting, Wednesday will approve a modified version of MSTV's digital repacking plan, which is intended to alleviate a crunch of demand for channel numbers when stations finally relinquish their analog channels and go all digital.

Stations theoretically have the right to keep their old analog numbers in the digital world rather than keep the second number assigned for their initial digital broadcasts, as long as the permanent channel is between chs. 2 and 49.

But, with the number of channels available shrinking, many stations will have to settle for another number. MSTV has proposed a plan for prioritizing which stations get to pick their permanent assignments first.

The FCC is expected to wrap up other digital TV housekeeping issues such as removing the mandate on simulcasting stations' analog broadcasts on a digital stream. The simulcasting mandate is being dropped in order to give broadcasters' more flexibility to create new,
innovative digital programming.