09.01.2008 08:32 AM
FCC says most stations are ready for DTV launch

The FCC’s Media Bureau said more than 96 percent of active full-power television stations are either fully operational with digital service or are on track to have their full digital service operational by Feb. 17, 2009.

In data released last week, the FCC said 1002 stations (56 percent of a current total of 1798 active television stations) reported in their Form 387s that they have fully constructed their post-transition DTV facilities and are ready for the DTV transition. The only step remaining for these stations is to terminate analog operations before Feb. 18, 2009.

Forty-one percent of stations (736) have not completed construction yet, but report making appropriate progress and expect to be operating their full digital service before the deadline.

About 3 percent (56 stations) need additional time due to “unique technical challenges,” such as top mount/side mount, weather-related issues, or coordination with other stations. The commission said these stations will take advantage of the flexibility offered in the Third DTV Periodic Review Report and Order and will be serving at least 85 percent of their service population on Feb. 17, 2009.

One station, KBRR of Thief River Falls, MN, forecasts that it will not be able to complete construction of its full digital facility until a few days after Feb. 17, 2009, and will be dark for this brief time. Three stations have not submitted their Form 387s but have unofficially reported that they intend to be ready for the DTV transition.

Delays were caused by a variety of reasons. Most common was the need to coordinate with other states. Ten had to coordinate with Mexico, and five of those 10 had Fish and Wildlife clearance issues. Sixty stations are seeking different digital channels, and 35 claim financial hardships.

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