Florida TV Station Asks to Go All-Digital

A noncommercial TV station in central Florida is seeking permission from the Federal Communications Commission to stop analog broadcasting in an effort to free up the spectrum for a new wireless-video service being developed by Qualcomm Inc.

Station WACX, licensed to Associated Christian Television System in Leesburg, Fla., occupies channel 55. Through an FCC spectrum auction and a private transaction, Qualcomm holds the rights to channel 55 throughout the United States. Qualcomm will have an easier time rolling out its video service if channel 55 has been cleared of TV station incumbents.

The FCC rules allow digital-only TV stations to demand analog carriage on local cable systems. WACX said it would “accommodate” local cable systems in order to ensure analog carriage of its digital signal on channel 40. WACX is located between Ocala and Tampa.

Qualcomm’s “MediaFLO” service, now in trial, is designed to beam multiple channels of video programming and other multimedia content from terrestrial towers to cellular phones and other mobile devices.

In February, KJLA -- a bilingual station in Ventura, Calif., owned by Entravision Holdings LLC CEO Walter Ulloa -- sought permission to cease analog broadcasting. But FCC Media Bureau chief Kenneth Ferree denied the request, citing the negative impact on the Hispanic population in Ventura and Los Angeles counties that relies exclusively on free, over-the-air broadcasting.

Congress is working on legislation that would force all TV stations to terminate analog broadcasting Dec. 31, 2008.