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MSTV Approves Channel-Packing Plan

After 18 months of chart-plotting by digital-TV trade group the Association for Maximum Service Television (MSTV), broadcasters are asking the Federal Communications Commission to OK new plans to squeeze all 1,597 full-power TV stations into channels 2-51 after the government takes channels 52-69 away from TV at the end of the digital transition.

No, MSTV didn’t use a supercomputer, but it would have helped the complex logistical ballet necessary to fit everybody in without creating a mish-mash of interference from crowding so many signals together.

"This plan provides the blueprint for starting and finishing this process in a timely fashion," says MSTV President and LIN TV CEO Gary Chapman.

According to the group’s calculus, 169 stations operating channels outside the 2-51 "TV core" have no place to go as of yet and will need the government to assign channels; 15 more have no DTV channel assigned at all. Another 188 stations will be unhappy because potential interference with other stations prevents them from retaining the analog channel they’ve invested years and big bucks building into a local brand.

The remaining 1,225, however, will be able to choose which of their current two channels they want to keep. MSTV’s plan was approved by board members in Las Vegas.

Next in the channel-repacking effort is figuring out how to fit in satellites, which broadcasters use to reach mountain hollows and isolated rural communities, and low-power stations.