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FCC Approves DTV Coverage Area Fill-In Service

The FCC commissioners have voted unanimously to approve the DTV translator service to help fill in the kinds of TV station coverage gaps exposed in the Wilmington, NC, switch to digital.

According to an FCC source, there were not dissents on the item, which would allow broadcasters to apply to the commission for permission to boost their signals to better replicate their old analog coverage areas or reach areas where terrain can hamper reception.

The item had been on the agenda for the Dec. 18 meeting that was subsequently canceled, but was considered the least controversial of the media items.

The FCC already adopted an item last month that will also help fill in those gaps using a distributed transmission system (DTS) which would allow them to use multiple towers with smaller coverage areas to reach their markets. While that system would use the same channel as broadcaster's digital signal, translators use a different channel.

In the wake of information gained from the Wilmington test, and under pressure from concerned legislators, the FCC has said its engineers were working on identifying the coverage gaps and taking steps to help broadcasters remedy them, which included the DTS vote and today's translator item.