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FCC Allows Some Stations to Make Digital Switch April 16

Mar 13, 2009  •  Post A Comment

The Federal Communications Commission is giving a reluctant go-ahead to a new round of early DTV switchovers, telling stations they can terminate their analog signals starting April 16, but imposing more conditions on network affiliates.
The FCC said the network affiliates could switch only if at least one local network station in the market continues to air an analog signal until the national switchover June 12.
For TVWeek’s comprehensive coverage of the digital television transition, visit the DTV Switch Navigator page.
The changes were announced today in a formal FCC report that also expands the outreach efforts and messages TV stations are required to provide.
Where before stations only had to tell viewers that the switch was coming, the FCC now will require TV stations switching from VHF to UHF signal bands to tell viewers about the potential impact of that band change and explain it may mean that current antennas need replacing.
The FCC also is requiring stations switching early to air significant numbers of messages, including one each night in primetime for 30 days. It is requiring that major stations switching early provide walk-in help centers, open seven days a week and staffed with station personnel.
Finally the agency is adding a new requirement that all stations, even those switching later, warn viewers that they may need to repeatedly rescan their converter boxes or TV sets in order to get all local stations, as stations make the switch.
The order requires stations that want to switch early to notify the FCC by 5:30 p.m. on March 17.
The report makes abundantly clear that the FCC still prefers stations wait until June 12 to switch.
An early switch “would squander the time given to us and the country by the delay enacted by Congress,” the FCC said, citing Congress’ decision to delay the DTV transition from Feb. 17.
The new report does offer stations one piece of increased flexibility. Instead of the national switchover being at midnight June 12, the FCC said stations can pick a convenient time that day.

16 Comments

  1. This is the first thing in years that I have seen the FCC do. Its about time to tell stations to give “localized” and then “personalized” information about coverage loss and antennas. It’s also not a bad idea to make them do a :30 infomercial-style program. The last “DTV: Are You Ready” show wasn’t that comprehensive, since they put spots into it. The spot avails took from info.
    I’m glad the FCC finally went with something that has to be local. I’m sick of national companies sliding through with little effort in productions, to ‘Jimmy Rig” informative PSA’s. Following a prod template does not localize well Such as KTRK and WTVG’s logo – both the same), even if you stick a local logo in the PSA. I’m currently seeing that with the new “antenna TV” version of the “switch spots.” But that does not tell me how to get the station better, and how to get rid of leaves blowing on the trees, simply to get the signals better.
    The FCC has a start to what should have been years ago. Now let’s get a few more rules in place.

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