FCC firms up LPTV plans


By September 1, 2015, analog television broadcast is to be completely relegated to the past, as the FCC has set a hard deadline for low power television stations and translators to switch to digital. It also amends rules for Class A stations, sets a 9/1/11 deadline for applications to exit the 700 MHz band (television channels 52-69) and sets a deadline of 12/31/11 for that band to be completely vacated.

Commissioners Michael Copps and Robert McDowell both said to expect the unexpected. Copps said smart planning would be the key to pulling off the last leg of the television transition to digital, and called for outreach efforts to pave the way. McDowell suggested that resources for outreach that the FCC was able to use for the full-power DTV transition may not be available this time around and suggested expectations not be raised if there is a chance they may not be met.

The FCC’s basic plan addresses nine items. It wrote:

To ensure a timely and successful completion to the low power television digital transition, we take the following steps:

(1) adopt a hard deadline of September 1, 2015 for the termination of all analog low power television facilities;

(2) establish rules permitting those stations needing additional time to complete their digital transition to obtain a “last minute” extension;

(3) require existing analog and digital low power television stations in the 700 MHz band (channels 52-69) to submit displacement applications by September 1, 2011, and to cease operations in the 700 MHz band by December 31, 2011;

(4) increase the power limits for VHF low power television channels to 3 kilowatts (the current analog power limit);

(5) delegate to the Media Bureau the authority to establish timeframes and procedures for stations that have not already converted to notify the Commission of their conversion plans;

(6) widen the class of low power television broadcasters subject to the Commission’s ancillary and supplementary fee rules;

(7) modify the Commission’s minor change rule so that it covers a proposed change in a low power television station’s transmitter site of up to 30 miles (48 kilometers) from the reference coordinates of the station’s transmitting antenna;

(8) revise the vertical antenna patterns used in the prediction methodology for the low power television services; and

(9) allow low power television stations to use the emission mask used by full power television stations.

The full document is available here.