The FCC has given Alaska more time to convert its TV translator stations to digital.
With the July 13, 2021, analog cut-off deadline fast approaching, the state asked the commission to allow it to continue to operate its 15 TV translator stations in analog and to extend the deadline for completion of its digital translators.
The FCC said yes to both, and will grant the state waivers of the deadline until Jan. 10, 2022. It must provide the commission with updates on its progress.
The commission cited novel factors that made strict compliance with the deadline "inconsistent with the public interest" since the translators, which relay TV signals to tough-to-reach terrain--of which Alaska has plenty--are the "sole source" of video programming.
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"As it attempted to convert the Station’s analog facilities to digital, SOA encountered construction delays that were beyond its control related to the nature of its State-wide translator network," the FCC said. One problem is a work window of only 12 weeks of Alaska "summer."
"The Stations’ programming is vital to the lives of the communities they serve as they provide important news, public affairs, weather, and EAS alerts," the FCC said.
The Media Bureau is also empowered to consider future waiver requests from the state, if needed.
Full-power stations cut off analog June 12, 2009, followed by Class A low powers Sept. 1, 2011. Low powers and translators were given until Sept. 1, 2015, but that was extended to July 13, 2021, due to the incentive auction and post-auction TV station repack--which concluded July 13, 2020.
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