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Commission gives stations flexibility in time of day to begin DTV service on post transition channel

The Federal Communications Commission June 2 gave full-power TV broadcasters permission to commence digital transmission on their post-transition channel assignment any time June 12 without first receiving commission approval.

The FCC order gives broadcasters the same flexibility in taking over their final DTV channel assignment as they previously were granted in ceasing analog transmission. The action means stations are not obligated to begin DTV service on their final digital channel assignment precisely at 11:59:59 p.m. on June 12.

“We have determined that this slight adjustment in our procedures will facilitate the transition for stations and their viewers by allowing flexible coordination and timing with respect to both the analog termination and the commencement of post-transition digital service,” the FCC order said.

Regardless of being granted added flexibility, stations continue to have certain obligations that must be fulfilled as they prepare to make their final DTV transition, the order said. Those include notifying viewers of the time of day on June 12 when they plan to cease analog transmission; filing a license application on June 12 using FCC Form 302-DTV or informing the commission via letter that they’ve begun a program test; and postponing their DTV transition until 11:59:59 p.m. if they cannot resolve coordination issues with broadcasters transmitting on the same channel during the day of June 12.

The order also gives stations that otherwise would have a significant gap in time between their ending analog transmission on June 12 and commencing DTV service on their post-transition assignment permission to adjust the timing of halting analog service to reduce the time period during which they would be off air.

In releasing the order, the FCC also said the added flexibility in the timing of beginning DTV service June 12 would also relieve some of the burden stations otherwise would have in completing paperwork required by the commission.