TV Translator Group Files to Stay Digital Transition Deadline
July 27, 2011
WASHINGTON: A low-power TV group is seeking to stay a
recently issued digital-transition deadline. The National Translator
Association is asking the Federal Communications Commission to stay the section
of its deadline rules requiring out-of-core LPTVs to find a core channel by
September 1 or cease broadcasting by the end of the year.
The NTA said it intended to file a petition for reconsideration, but it was
filing a Motion for Stay in the meantime “because of the extremely short time
afforded out-of-core translators to implement the specified paragraphs of the
The motion refers specifically to paragraphs 23-35, which cover LPTVs and
translators operating on Chs. 52-69. Those channels were redesignated for
wireless use after the June 2009 digital transition for full-power stations.
LPTVs, including Class A’s and translators, were not covered by the 2009
deadline, and some continue to transmit analog signals on Chs. 52-69, now
considered “out-of-core.” Chs. 2-51 now are considered the core TV band, though
the National Broadband Plan proposes to scale it back by an additional 20
There are about 4,500 licensed translators in the country. Most rebroadcast
full-power TV station signals to areas where they would otherwise not be
received. The NTA said around 300 would be affected by the out-of-core deadline. They
have until Sept. 1, 2011, to file a displacement application seeking an in-core
channel assignment. Those who fail to do so will have to shut down at the end
“There is no compelling reason for the abrupt imposition of such a short
time-frame, because an effective procedure, which enables the full deployment
of wireless in a timely manner--is already in place and has been working
satisfactorily,” the NTA said in its
Current rules allow wireless licensees on Chs. 52-69 to give 120 days notice to
an incumbent broadcaster to clear a particular frequency. Therefore, the NTA
reasoned, “there is no need to adopt a close-out date for translators and
The NTA said the September 1 application deadline didn’t provide enough time
for the 300 affected licensees to find an in-core channel and prove operations
would not interfere with incumbent stations. Applicants would then have to wait
for FCC approval, and all frequency changes must be put on a 30-day grant list.
Moving to a new channel could also require a site change, which would
take more time.
“By now, it is late November,” the NTA said. “Work at tower sites in the
mountains and on tall towers even in flat land becomes difficult due to
inclement weather after October.”
The September 1 deadline is part of the commission’s
Report and Order covering the digital transition deadline for 7,240 LPTVs,
including Class A stations and translators. It requires analog LPTVs now
transmitting on Chs. 2-51 to cease doing so and go digital-only by Sept. 1,
2015. The rules officially go into effect Aug. 26, which is also the deadline
for Petitions for Reconsideration.
The FCC in its R&O had little sympathy for out-of-core LPTV and translator
“For many years, out-of-core channel low-power television broadcasters have
known their use of [Chs. 52-69] was authorized only on an interim basis.... and
should have been expecting to be displaced at any time.”
Verizon, which bought 112 of the licenses in Chs. 52-69 during the 2008 700 MHz
auction, is urging the FCC to clear the block and put a freeze on applications
for new TV facilities on Ch. 51, claiming interference from those licensees.
Deborah D. McAdams
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