The FCC has tentatively decided to delay the Sept. 1, 2015 deadline for low-power TV stations and translator stations to make the transition to digital. It has also tentatively concluded to allow low powers and translators to share channels.
Full-powers made the DTV transition in June 2009.
In a Third Notice of Proposed Rulemaking released Oct. 10, the FCC also tentatively concluded it should create a "'digital-to-digital' replacement translator" service for full power stations that experience losses in their pre-auction service areas.
The FCC is also tentatively suspending the expiration dates and construction deadlines for construction permits for LPTV's and translators until it has completed a just-launched review of how to protect the stations—new and existing—after the broadcast incentive auction and repacking, which it concedes will displace a "significant number" of the stations.
The NPRM also asked whether the FCC should use the incentive auction optimization model it is using for full powers to help LPTV's and translators displaced by the auction and repacking to find new channels; whether to allow digital LPTV stations to run analog FM radio-type services on an ancillary basis; and whether to eliminate the requirement that receivers include analog tuners.
By statute, LPTV's and translators are not accorded the same interference or coverage area protections as full-power stations, and are not allowed to participate in the auction.
"Our action today to suspend the expiration date and construction deadlines of permits for new digital LPTV and TV translator stations will allow these permittees to forego having to continue to file extension applications. It will also conserve Commission resources by avoiding the need to address hundreds of individual extension requests pending final action in the Commission's rulemaking proceeding."
The FCC also had to delay the full-power DTV transition by a few months back in 2009.
The LPTV Spectrum Rights Coalition said it was vetting the NPRM.
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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.