In a Public Notice, the FCC has reminded all analog LPTV stations and TV translators that they need to convert to digital by July 13, 2021 or cease operations. The Notice reminds operators of these stations that, if they cannot meet the July 13 deadline, they can request an extension by March 15. Upon a showing setting out that their inability to meet the deadline was for reasons beyond their control, the Commission may grant an extension of up to 6 months to construct the digital facilities (though, even if their conversion deadline is extended, the analog operations must cease by July 13).
One issue left unresolved by the FCC is the status of “Franken FMs,” those analog LPTV stations on Channel 6 whose audio is used to provide an FM radio service on 87.7 on the FM band. As we wrote here, the FCC asked for comments on a request to allow these stations to continue to provide an analog audio signal even after the digital conversion deadline to allow these audio services to continue. Though the deadline is getting close, there thus far has been no response by the FCC on that request.
July 13 is also the deadline for the construction of many digital LPTV stations granted in the first part of the last decade whose construction deadlines were put on hold pending the resolution of all of the issues surrounding the television incentive auction and subsequent repacking of the television band. The same March 13 deadline for extension requests applies to these permits.
The Public Notice also suggests that any last-minute applications for modification of any of these facilities subject to the July 13 deadline be filed quickly to ensure that they can be acted on in time to allow construction to meet the deadline. Other details of these policies and procedures are included in the notice. If you have an LPTV or TV translator station subject to these deadlines, review this notice and related FCC orders carefully and take steps now to ensure that you can finalize construction by the coming deadline.