LPTV Digital Transition Date Set For September 1st, 2015
July 20, 2011 at 3:57 AM (PT)
The FCC has set SEPTEMBER 1st, 2015 as the final transition date for low-power television stations to move from analog to digital, and the move effectively sets a final date for the use of LPTVs on analog channel 6 as de facto FM radio stations as well. The Commission's ruling is a three-year reprieve of sorts for the "radio" stations, which were facing a previously-proposed 2012 deadline for the digital transition. Stations in several markets use the analog channel 6 audio, which appears at 87.75 FM, to broadcast audio programming.
"A 2012 deadline would be more likely than a later deadline to require some low power operators to construct digital facilities twice: once to meet the 2012 conversion deadline; and then later in accordance with any reallocation scheme" the Commission explained. "Commenters point out that many low power television stations are not in the position to transition twice. We agree that it would be preferable for these stations not to have to make the significant investment required for conversion to digital facilities, when such facilities may have to be substantially modified due to channel displacement or taken off the air altogether in connection with the implementation of a spectrum repacking scheme."
Stations will be required to end analog transmission on the 2015 cut-off date, although they will be able to get up to six-month extensions to build the replacement digital facilities by MARCH 1st, 2016 if necessary. LPTVs on "out-of-core" channels 52-69 will have to cease operations by DECEMBER 31st, 2011.