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‘Nightlight' Rules Coming Jan. 15

At its January meeting, the FCC is scheduled to vote on rules implementing the so-called “nightlight” legislation that will allow another 30 days of broadcasting, in analog, information about the DTV transition or emergencies.

The FCC has already released a list of markets and stations eligible for the extension.

Stations that may be ineligible are those who broadcast on Channel 51 or higher—where new users may already be ready to go—or whose analog channels may conflict with new DTV channel assignments.

Some licensees “have been waiting anxiously for February 17, 2009, the date by which all incumbent analog television stations are to cease operations on channels 52-69, which includes the 700 MHz spectrum, reallocated long ago for public safety communications,” the Association of Public-Safety Communications Officials-International told the commission. “Indeed, many public safety agencies have already acquired and deployed dual-band 700/800 MHz radios with the intent of initiating 700 MHz operations after February 17, 2009.”

Interested parties need to act fast if they wish to comment on the matter. The FCC deadline for comments is Monday, Jan. 5, with reply comments due Jan. 8.

The Jan. 15 meeting will be held with only four commissioners following the end of Commissioner Deborah Taylor Tate’s tenure, and will likely be the last under the gavel of Chairman Kevin Martin, assuming incoming President Obama elevates one of the panel’s Democrats to the post of interim chairman.

President Bush signed the nightlight legislation—the Short-term Analog Flash and Emergency Readiness (SAFER) Act—on Dec. 23.