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Analog Nightlight Plan on FCC’s January Agenda… For Now

The FCC will take up the recently passed analog nightlight bill at its regular monthly meeting Thursday unless the item is deleted as FCC agenda items frequently are. The analog nightlight bill allows broadcasters to keep transmitting analog signals up to 30 days after Feb. 17, the now squishy federal deadline to end analog TV. The so-called “Short-term Analog Flash and Emergency Readiness Act” would let certain TV stations run public safety and DTV transition information on analog feeds through March 19. Only those stations with analog assignments on Channels 2-51 that won’t interfere with neighboring digital signals qualify.

The bill was passed just before Christmas, launching an FCC docket opened briefly for comment. Broadcasters most prevalently weighed in with requests to sell sponsorships on the analog info feeds. The cable industry asked for cable headend interference protection.

Meanwhile, Democrats in Washington began to think maybe they didn’t want to deal with the digital transition yet. Last week, news of delaying the deadline reached an apex when President-elect Barack Obama’s right-hand dude John Podest dispatched a letter to Congress saying, in effect, “ein minuten bitte.”

Elsewhere in the Wonderful World of the FCC, a new white spaces group was created to provide more global travel opportunities for commissioners and staffers. The International TV White Spaces Fellowship and Training Initiative of the Ring intends to bring together a global contingency of radio frequency engineers who will make it possible for everyone on the plane to have their nose buried in a Blackberry even in the most remote regions of Nepal.

The FCC’s Office of Engineering and Technology and the International Bureau will oversee the Fellowship from a soaring tower known as “The Portals” in Washington, D.C.