Nearly 800 Stations Aren“t Fully Prepared for Transition

An Aug. 27 status report from the FCC“s Media Bureau indicates that only 56 percent of the nation“s TV stations are completely prepared to shut off analog transmitters. The commission said that of 1,798 “active” television stations, a total of 1,002 have reported in their update forms that they are ready for the DTV transition.

“The only step remaining for these stations is to terminate analog operations before Feb. 18, 2009,” the FCC said.

Of those that have more to do, the agency said 736 haven“t completed digital build-outs, but “report making appropriate progress and expect to be operating their full digital service before Feb. 18.”

A total of 56 stations have taken up the FCC on its offer of flexibility regarding “unique technical challenges.” Those stations will be allowed to cover at least 85 percent of their markets with a digital signal as of Feb. 17 with the understanding that they“ll provide 100 percent coverage “beginning sometime thereafter.”

At least one unidentified station said it would have to go dark for a few days after Feb. 17 in order to power up its digital operation. Three others haven“t submitted the necessary update forms, but have unofficially reported their intention to be ready for the transition.

The FCC recently also identified around 80 television markets that are most at risk of chaos in the DTV transition because of their high concentration of over-the-air reliance.

“These markets include all those markets in which more than 100,000 households or at
least 15 percent of the households rely solely on over-the-air signals for television,” said FCC Chairman Kevin Martin in a statement. “The five FCC commissioners and other commission staff will fan out to these and other markets to raise awareness and educate consumers in the days leading up to the digital television transition on Feb. 17, 2009.

The FCC barnstorming schedule is available at the agency“s Web site.