The deadlines for the digital conversion of LPTV stations, TV translators and Class A TV stations were announced on Friday, in an Order where the FCC also provided some indication of their expected timetable for the reclamation of some of the television spectrum for broadband use – and that expectation is nowhere near as aggressive as originally announced two years ago in the FCC’s Broadband Report. The digital conversion of LPTV and translator stations will happen by September 1, 2015. The FCC also ordered an earlier December 31, 2011 deadline for the digital conversion and clearing of the reclaimed spectrum by those stations still operating in parts of the former television band (Channels 52 through 69) that have already been reclaimed and mostly auctioned for wireless uses. The digital conversion of Class A stations and other operational issues were also discussed in the order. The details of the order may also reveal the Commission’s thinking on the proposed reclamation of other portions of the TV spectrum for broadband use, and of the use of Channels 5 and 6 for radio. Details on the deadlines and other actions by the FCC in this order are set out below.
Conversion Deadline and Process for Stations in Core TV Band
LPTV, translator and Class A stations (referred to in the rest of this article simply as "LPTV stations" except with respect to the specific Class A rules discussed below) will have a hard deadline for digital conversion of September 1, 2015. As of that date, all analog television operations in the US will cease. If LPTV stations do not already have a construction permit authorizing digital operations, they must file for such a permit by May 1, 2015. All existing construction permits for a digital flash-cut on the LPTV station’s current channel are automatically extended by this Order until the September 15, 2015 deadline. This does not extend outstanding construction permits for digital companion channels. Extensions of those permits must be requested by the permittee.