FCC Reminds Class as of Sept. 1 DTV Deadline

The FCC is reminding Class A low-power stations—which have must-carry and incentive auction repack rights—that they have until Sept. 1, 2015, to cease analog operations and start broadcasting in digital.

While full-power stations had to flip the digital switch in June 2009, the FCC gave low powers more time to switch over, which time is now up for Class As. Other low powers and translators, which boost the reach of full-power stations by retransmitting their signals to hard-to-reach places, were also originally scheduled to make the switch Sept. 1, but the FCC suspended that deadline last year while it considered establishing a new date, which, de facto, it has by apparently not wrapping up that rulemaking proceeding before the Sept. 1 date.

"Class A television stations may no longer operate any facility in analog mode associated with their Class A license after 11:59 pm, local time, on September 1, 2015," the FCC said in a public notice.

Stations that have not finished constructing their digital facilities have to go dark while they wrap that up, but only have 30 days to do so without getting further authority from the FCC to remain dark and silent. After those 30 days, they must make an informal request for more time no later than the 30th day. If that time is granted, stations are on notice that if they remain off the air for 12 consecutive months they risk losing the license altogether.

John Eggerton

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.