DTV Transition: From the Sublime to the Ridiculous


As I noted yesterday, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) released the list of the US television stations whose analog operations have or will be terminating before February 17, 2009 or that intend to terminate analog operations on February 17, 2009.

According to the FCC, there are 190 stations that have terminated or will be terminating their analog operations before February 17, 2009, and another 491 stations that notified the FCC on February 9 of their intent to terminate their analog operations on February 17, 2009.

However, last night, the FCC decided that 191 stations of the 491 that want to make the transition won't be able to next week.

According to the FCC:

"... early termination [of the 191] poses a significant risk of substantial public harm. We developed this list of stations by first identifying the markets in which all of the stations would be terminating analog service on February 17, 2009. We also identified markets in which affiliates of all four of the major networks, ABC, CBS, Fox, and NBC, would be terminating analog service, or, in markets that do not have affiliates of all four networks, we determined if all of the major networks broadcasting in those markets would be terminating their analog service on February 17th."

"We also considered loss of major network service in cities within the larger DMAs. We considered the presence of major networks and their affiliates critical to ensuring that viewers have access to local news and public affairs available over the air because the major network affiliates are the primary source of local broadcast news and public affairs programming."

"Therefore, even if independent or noncommercial stations remain on the air in these markets, we still considered these areas at risk."

The FCC provided the gang of 191 a set of eight hoops, which if they were willing to jump through, they could still go digital. The list is too long to list in this post, but one of the hoops is for an analog signal to still be made available, which kind of defeats the purpose of going digital. You can read in detail about the types and sizes of the hoops here beginning on page 3. Stations have until 1800 (EST) to let the FCC know what they are going to do.

This DTV transition is looking more and more like group "Whack a Mole" where everyone, viewers, the FCC, broadcasters, and Congress all have mallets and eye everyone else as moles.

Spectrum would like to hear about your experiences on the changeover (for those who experience it) next week. Go here and join the crowd.


Risk Factor

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Robert Charette
Spotsylvania, Va.
Willie D. Jones
New York City