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LPTVs Ask For Time, Flexibility To Make Digital Switch

Low Power TV groups have told the FCC that they need more
time to make the transition to digital, and want the flexibility to experiment
with delivering a combined broadcast and broadband service.

That is according to comments filed at the FCC.

The commission has proposed requiring low-power TV stations
to make the digital transition by 2012. That is so it can begin auctioning off
broadcast spectrum for wireless broadband per the national broadband
plan. LPTV stations were not required to make the DTV transition back
in 2009 along with full-power stations, in part because of the economic
burden it would put on the stations.

In a group filing, 15 LPTV stations said that the
2012 shut-off date would require them to "expend strained resources"--as
much as $200,000 if they have to move to a new channel--to make the DTV
switch or lose their spectrum, and at a time when it was not yet clear whether
they would be getting any money out of proposed incentive spectrum auctions.
They want the FCC to wait until it has reclaimed and reallocated spectrum to
mandate the conversion to ensure there will be spectrum left over for them.

They also say they should have the flexibility to use their
spectrum to deliver both broadcast and broadband service, which at least one
commenter says will require the FCC not to lock them into the ATSC
transmission standard for DTV.

In its comments, SpectrumEvolution.Org (SEO) said it is
exploring combining the two services. It is experimenting with the
technology--using the ATSC standard--in concert with some LPTV
stations in Oregon, but asks the FCC to let it start testing with a modulation
scheme other than ATSC. "[T]here is even less reason for a station to
invest in digital operation when the ATSC technology they are being asked
to implement is two decades old and falls far short of the

John Eggerton
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.