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FCC Provides Rules For DTV Fill-Ins

The FCC Friday released its order establishing a new class of translators that will help stations fill in DTV coverage gaps in their current service areas.

"It is the Commission’s goal that, following the digital transition, all Americans continue to receive the television broadcast service that they are accustomed to receiving to the greatest extent feasible," the FCC said.

As expected, the commission will not allow the translators on channels 52-59, which are being cleared for advanced wireless services. Besides, the FCC said, none applied for translators in that spectrum.

In total, said the FCC, 14 stations have submitted 20 applications for the translators, and eight requests for temporary translators.

The FCC said it will separately issue a public notice on a first come, first serve licensing process for translators to deal with issues involving coverage problems that require "more distant translators."

As expected, the commission has also decided not to put a six-month deadline on construction of the facilities, but keep the usual three-year time period.

The FCC will not make broadcasters pay in the secondary spectrum market for the fill-in spectrum, as the wireless industry had suggested.

The FCC rejected a proposal by the National Association of Broadcasters that they have more flexibility to determine a signal loss area, saying that would be "unduly combersome to administer."

The FCC's decision comes only a little over a month before the June 12 switch to digital, but the commission has been allowing translator applications to be submitted under temporary authority.