04.16.2009 08:25 AM
CBA warns of possible DTV transition ‘plane crash’ for existing Class A, LPTV stations

The Community Broadcasters Association has expressed concern that the FCC is contemplating opening a “rolling application filing” window to allow new LPTV and TV translator stations to enter markets before it has resolved a variety of DTV-related issues affecting low-power television incumbents and they’ve had sufficient time to complete their digital transition.

In an editorial submitted to Broadcast Engineering magazine’s RF Update newsletter, Greg Herman, CBA VP of technology, characterized the experience of existing Class A and LPTV stations with the DTV transition as being “turbulent” and potentially turning into “a hideous plane crash.”

Opening such a filing window would create “serious hardship” on existing LPTV and Class A stations as they begin their transition to digital service, according to Herman.

“Some stations are likely to find that they cannot flash cut to digital on their existing channel without a significant reduction in coverage, so they will need time to find new channels,” writes Herman.

Allowing new LPTV and TV translator entrants into the spectrum before sufficient time has been granted to allow existing Class A and LPTV stations to surmount the challenges of their own DTV switchover would throw incumbents “into what could be a application maelstrom before they have time to settle into a permanent digital home,” Herman says in the editorial.

According to Herman, the government has not considered giving priority to replication applications from existing stations. A general lack of effort on the part of government to protect existing Class A and LPTV stations as they proceed into the digital future could be fatal, he warns.

“Any further failure to assist our industry in a meaningful way and the specter of an uncontrolled and unfair “rolling filing” window will likely further weaken, if not crush, an already beleaguered industry,” Herman writes.

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