The FCC’s Order and Notice of Proposed Rulemaking implementing changes resulting from the Congressional delay in the DTV transition deadline and seeking comment on a number of proposed rule changes has been published in the Federal Register.  Comments on the Commission’s proposed rules, including changes to the transition procedures that would restrict the ability of television stations

The FCC late Friday released an Order and Notice of Proposed Rulemaking addressing a number of issues which arose as a result of the Congressional delay in the DTV transition deadline from February 17 until June 12.  In many cases, the actions taken in the Order are ministerial – e.g. changing the expiration dates on digital construction permits from February to June.  But there were also a number of substantive issues addressed by the order – including the public education requirements for the remainder of the transition and the potential for delaying any further terminations of analog service until at least April, and subjecting any planned termination of analog service before June 12 to additional scrutiny to determine if that termination would serve the public interest.   This is despite what many have termed a relatively uneventful termination of analog service on February 17 by over 400 stations nationwide.  Comments on this change in the transition procedures are to be filed on an expedited basis – within 5 days of the publication of this order in the Federal Register.

The delay of the early termination of service is likely to cause the most controversy, as Senate Republicans backed the transition delay only after specifically including in the legislation language that seemingly permitted such transitions under the rules that were in place at the time that the legislation was adopted (see our post here).  This would seemingly have permitted stations to terminate analog service within 90 days of the June 12 deadline, provided they had given their listeners at least 30 days notice of their plans.  A number of stations have started to provide that notice, planning a termination in March. But the Commission has tentatively concluded that it can amend the process for termination, and has set the date of March 17 for a notice to be filed at the FCC by all stations that want to terminate analog service before June 12.  As the Commission plans to continue to require 30 days public notice of the termination, and as they won’t allow any termination decision to become official until the March 17 filing, the earliest a station can terminate analog service under this proposal (absent a technical issue or other extreme circumstance) would be April 16. 


Continue Reading FCC Releases More Details of Delayed DTV Transition – No More DTV Conversions Until April?

Yesterday, we briefly wrote about the FCC’s release of a notice summarizing the process that television stations need to follow as they transition to digital under the newly extended DTV conversion date.  In yesterday’s post, we promised a more detailed memo summarizing the requirements that the FCC has set out.  That advisory is now available here

The House of Representatives, after a fairly contentious debate, today passed the Bill extending the termination date for analog service by full-power TV stations, extending the Digital Television deadline until June 12.  By that date, all full-power stations will need to complete the transition to digital so that, on June 13, there will be no

Earlier this week, we wrote about the apparent compromise in the Senate between Republicans and Democrats that would seemingly allow the Digital Television conversion deadline to be delayed from the current date of February 17 that stations have been warning consumers about for years, pushing that date back until June 12.  That compromise legislation passed the

The Digital Television transition, as we’ve written before, is becoming a political hot potato, with everyone seemingly preparing to point the finger at others if the transition does not run smoothly. In recent weeks, we’ve seen Republicans and Democrats alike taking their shots at broadcasters and the FCC – looking for likely sources of blame if there are a significant number of viewers who have a television signal that is missing in action on February 18, 2009, the day after the end of the transition. Many are blaming television broadcasters for not pushing the transition more in Public Service Announcements and other announcements on their airwaves. Some suggest a set of mandatory public service obligations to inform the public (see details here).  But would such a push at this time do any good when the availability of converter boxes is limited, and the price of digital-only television sets still high?

In recent actions, Commissioner Copps wrote an op-ed piece in USA Today last week sounding an old theme – more public interest obligations for digital television (see our post on the pending proposals, here) – and a newer one, that broadcasters should now be running public service announcements that inform the public of the steps that they need to take to be ready for the transition (either subscribing to cable or satellite or getting a digital television or converter box). A similar point about the publicity for the transition – perhaps even mandatory PSAs – was made in a recent letter from two Republican members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, Joe Barton and Fred Upton, to the FCC. While there is no question that broadcasters need to promote the digital transition as the public is woefully uninformed of what is coming, does promotion do any good if the hardware is not available?


Continue Reading Pushing Too Hard for Publicity on the Digital Television Transition?