Ion Amsterdam, N.Y., Station Goes All-Digital

Amsterdam, N.Y., is making the switch to all-digital TV a little early.

The Federal Communications Commission is allowing the "sole TV station licensed to Amsterdam," Ion Media Networks' (formerly Paxson Communications) WYPX-TV, to give up its analog channel (55) and switch to digital-only broadcasting on channel 50.

The hard date for the DTV switch isn't until Feb. 17, 2009.

Not to worry, though: The commission said the market is still serviced by 9-19 TV stations from the Albany-Schnectady-Troy, N.Y., market.

The FCC is allowing some broadcasters on channels 52-59 to so-called flash-cut to digital to free up that spectrum for advanced wireless services, but only those not among the top four in the market and only if a relatively small number of viewers will be affected.

In this case, Qualcomm is paying broadcasters like Ion to vacate channel 55 as the phone company rolls out its MediaFLO national wireless-multichannel-video service. The FCC has allowed numerous stations on channel 55 to give up their spectrum early and adjancent stations to accept slightly higher interference than normally allowed in the interests of advancing the MediaFLO rollout.

The commission granted Ion's request, but with the caveat that it must supply cable operators with the equipment to convert the DTV signal to analog for their analog cable customers.

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.