Low-Power Group: One Nightlight per Market Is Enough

The 30-day “nightlight” extension for full-power analog broadcasting could have adverse consequences for Low-Power and Class A stations planning to move to digital, the main group representing those stations told the FCC.

The extension, enabled by the Short-term Analog Flash and Emergency Readiness (SAFER) Act, will allow some full-power stations to keep their analog transmitters going for 30 days after the Feb. 18 deadline in order to provide emergency information or DTV education. The FCC is scheduled to vote on the rules Jan. 15.

The Community Broadcasters Association said in a filing Jan. 2 that only one such “nightlight” is need in each market to provide information in an emergency, and that the Low-Power and Class A stations, most of which will continue in analog after Feb. 18, will be available for that job if needed.

But keeping full-power analog signals on channels will tie up that spectrum and could delay LPTV and Class A stations seeking to switch to DTV, CBA said.

So, the CBA asked the FCC to tailor its nightlight rules accordingly and to avoid pressuring stations to use the extension as long as one full-power station in a market stays on-air in analog.

“The Nightlight program will have both benefits and burdens; and as long as the benefits are available on one strong signal in each DMA, the burdens should be recognized and minimized to the extent possible,” CBA said.