By December 1, 2011, all commercial and noncommercial full power digital television (DTV) stations, as well as all digital low power, Class A, and television translator stations must electronically file an FCC Form 317 with the FCC. This Form reports whether the station has provided any ancillary and supplementary services during the twelve-month period ending on

By December 1, 2010, all commercial and noncommercial digital television (DTV) stations must electronically file an FCC Form 317 with the FCC. This Form reports whether the station has provided any ancillary and supplementary services during the twelve-month period ending on September 30, 2010.

Under the Commission’s Rules, in addition to providing free over-the-air broadcast

On Friday, the Commission released a Further Notice of Proposed Rule Making (FNPRM) seeking input on completing the transition of all low power television stations (LPTV) and TV translator stations to digital operations.  Driven by the transition of all full power TV stations last year and the guidance from the National Broadband Plan, which recommended setting a deadline of 2015 for the transition of LPTVs to digital in order to increase efficiency in the TV bands and assist in the reallocation of those bands, the Commission’s rulemaking turns to the remaining analog television operations in the spectrum, i.e. LPTV and TV translator stations.  The Commission, having noted a significant increase in the past year of LPTV stations obtaining authority for, and actually switching to, DTV operations, concludes that "low power television stations should now begin to focus their time and resources on developing and implementing a digital conversion plan." 

In response to the main question of "when?", the Commission suggests a date in 2012 as the hard date by which all LPTVs and TV translators would have to complete the construction of digital facilities and cease analog operations.  While a specific date in 2012 is not offered, the Commission believes that three years after the June 12, 2009 full power transition should be a sufficient time period for completing the transition.  And of course, given that it is now September 2010, that really means that LPTV stations would have between 15 and 27 months from today to complete the transition.  The FNPRM does seek comment on alternative time frames or transition mechanisms, but notes that an adoption of an earlier transition date in 2012 might adversely impact some LPTV stations, which could "transition to digital only to find that their digital channel is no longer available as a result of the spectrum reallocation that is one of the recommendations in the Broadband Plan."  Such stations would then be forced to transition a second time.  Given that the Commission has not yet actually commenced a proceeding to implement the spectrum reallocation recommended in the Broadband Plan, this comment is a bit troubling.  Clearly, if the Commission is actually going to reallocate the spectrum as suggested in the National Broadband Plan, it should do so first before it mandates a DTV transition for LPTVs.  Or at the very least, it shouldn’t mandate such a transition until it can ensure that LPTV stations are transitioning to digital on a channel that won’t subsequently be reclaimed and re-purposed for a competing wireless broadband operation.  In acknowledgment of this, the FNPRM seeks comment on whether the analog termination date should be by the end of 2015 or after the "recommended reallocation of spectrum from the broadcast TV bands". 


Continue Reading Next Up in the DTV Transition, Low Power Television Stations

Interested in a brand new full power digital television station in Atlantic City, New Jersey, or Seaford, Delaware?  Then the FCC has just what you’re looking for, provided that you’re ready, willing, and able to build the station from the ground up and don’t mind a low VHF channel.   The Commission today issued the first auction

Last week, the FCC’s Media Bureau granted waivers of the requirement that television tuners be capable of receiving both analog and digital television transmissions, but only with respect to tuners meant for mobile use.  The FCC justified the waivers of the All Channel Receiver Act given the technological constraints that an analog reception chip would put on mobile receivers meant for the reception of the Mobile/Handheld Digital Television Standard (A/153) signals.  This signal is being tested now to allow television broadcasters to provide mobile programming in addition to their current over-the-air broadcast signals – a service planned for commercial roll out at the end of the year.  These waivers, granted in response to requests by Dell and LG Electronics, not only signal the seriousness with which this new service is being regarded, but also provide evidence of the coming end of analog television, now used solely by LPTV stations.   

In considering the waiver, the Commission recognized that the only television stations that would be affected by the lack of an analog tuner were LPTV stations, and no such stations opposed the waiver request.  As one of the waiver proponents noted, analog television signals were not meant for mobile reception, and thus the lack of such a receiver in a mobile device was no big loss.  Moreover, the FCC noted that the digital conversion of LPTV stations has already begun, in that it no longer accepts applications for new analog LPTV stations.  The Commission reiterated that it will soon set a date for the final conversion of the last analog LPTV stations to digital.  Thus, the failure to receive analog would be, at most, a temporary issue.


Continue Reading FCC Authorizes Mobile DTV Receivers Without Analog Tuners – Further Signals of the End of Analog LPTV, and Raises Questions of Recapture of TV Spectrum for Broadband

The FCC today issued a Public Notice  instructing applicants for new analog low power TV (LPTV) stations to amend their pending short-form applications by May 24th in order to specify digital operations. If the short-form application is not amended by May 24th it will be dismissed.  As some of you may recall, way back in 2000 the FCC opened a window for the filing of new LPTV stations. Rather than full applications, at the time applicants were simply required to file a "short form" tech-box application specifying the basic parameters of the proposal.  And of course, at the time the proposals were all for new analog LPTV facilities. Over the years, many of these proposals were found to be non-mutually exclusive, and the applicant applied for and received construction permits for new LPTV stations.  Other proposals were conflicted and were included in an FCC Auction to resolve the conflict, which also resulted in the grant of new construction permits. Many others, however, remained mutually exclusive and deadlocked. The FCC has now decided that, as it will no longer grant any new analog LPTV stations, any remaining proposals that are still pending must be amended to specify digital operations. 

Today’s action is consistent with the Commission’s pronouncement made last Summer when it announced the opportunity to commence filings for new LPTV stations in rural areas (which we wrote about here).  At that time, the FCC stated that going forward it would grant only digital LPTV stations and not any new analog LPTVs.  It’s unclear why today’s Public Notice was not released last year once that decision was made, but in any event today’s action would appear to be one more step towards the ultimate transition of all LPTV stations to digital operations, which was mentioned as part of last week’s National Broadband Plan (which we discussed here).  While the Commission has not yet set a date for the transition of existing analog LPTV stations to digital, the Broadband Plan suggested accelerating that process to migrate all broadcast television to digital operations.  However, the Plan also suggested potentially repacking the television spectrum, encouraging the consolidation of television operations, and changing interference protections for teleivsion stations, so whether the Commission would move forward with requiring analog LPTV stations to convert to DTV without clarifying some of these new proposals and their impact on low power television stations is unclear.  One other observation:  with the potential conversion to digital operations looming, the days of analog LPTV stations operating on TV Channel 6 and broadcasting audio intended to be received by FM radios would appear to be numbered. 


Continue Reading Pending Short-Form Applications for New Analog LPTVs Must Be Amended to Specify Digital Operations by May 24th

The FCC has wasted no time in pressing ahead with the discussion of whether the spectrum currently used by local broadcast television stations is being put to the greatest use and whether it should be "re-purposed" for the so-called broadband effort.  This afternoon, the FCC issued a Public Notice soliciting comments by December 21st

By December 1, 2009, all commercial and noncommercial digital television (DTV) stations must electronically file a FCC Form 317 with the Commission reporting on whether the station has provided any ancillary and supplementary services over their digital spectrum during the twelve-month period ending on September 30, 2009.

Under the Commission’s Rules, in addition to providing free over-the-air broadcast television, DTV stations are permitted to offer services of any nature, consistent with the public interest, convenience, and necessity, on an ancillary or supplementary basis.  Some examples of the kinds of services that may be provided include computer software distribution, data transmissions, teletext, interactive materials, aural messages, paging services, audio signals, and subscription video.

All DTV stations — regardless of whether the station holds a DTV license or is operating pursuant to Special Temporary Authority (STA), program test authority (PTA), or some other authority — must file a Form 317 reporting whether or not it provided such services and whether it generated any income from such services. If the station did provide such ancillary services, then the FCC wants to know about it. More importantly, if the station generated revenue from the provision of those services, then the FCC wants its 5% cut of the gross revenues derived from such service.  The Form 317 is very brief, soliciting information about the license and the types of services provided, if any, and must be filed electronically through the CDBS filing system.


Continue Reading DTV Station Reminder: FCC Form 317 Reporting of Ancillary Services Due Dec. 1st

This week, the FCC announced that it will begin accepting applications for new digital-only LPTV and translator stations in rural areas as of August 25, 2009. Beginning on that date, the FCC will also begin to accept applications for major changes to existing analog and digital LPTV and TV translators in rural areas, and applications for digital companion channels (DCCs) for existing analog stations in rural areas. By "rural areas", the FCC means stations that specify a transmitter site that is located more than 75 miles away from the reference coordinates of the 100 U.S. cities listed in the FCC’s Public Notice. Applications for new analog facilities will not be accepted. This filing opportunity will be on a first-come, first-served processing basis, and mutually exclusive proposals will be resolved by auction.  A copy of the FCC’s Public Notice is available here.

While this window is for new stations, major changes, and DCCs in rural areas, prior to that date all existing LPTV, TV translator, and Class A television stations may wish to review their present options for converting to DTV. The Commission’s Public Notice reminds existing stations that they may file an application for on-channel digital conversion (i.e. flash-cut) at any time. In order to retain processing priority, existing stations are encouraged to file flash-cut applications prior to August 25th, and certainly by January 25, 2010, at which point the FCC will open the door for new digital licensing opportunities on a nationwide first-come, first-served, as discussed below. 


Continue Reading Filing Opportunity for LPTV and Translator Stations in Rural Areas Commences August 25th; Nationwide Window Opens Jan. 25, 2010

This week ,the FCC issued a Public Notice addressing the issue of LPTV stations eager to displace to a new channel or switch to digital operations following the transition of full powers to DTV. (Please note, this notice does not address the filing of applications for brand new LPTV stations, which are still frozen). Many