Commission proposes ‘replacement’ digital TV translator service

The Federal Communications Commission is proposing creating a new “replacement” digital TV translator service to help full-power stations continue providing coverage to viewers living in areas that will lose service as a result of the DTV transition.

The commission released a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on Dec. 23 that seeks comment on how to implement the new translator service. The commission has tentatively concluded that the new service should be subject to the rules covering analog TV translators, such as the secondary nature of the service, application filing and processing, as well as construction and operation.

The commission also announced an interim filing procedure to process replacement translator applications and authorization of temporary facilities.

According to the notice, the commission has tentatively concluded that replacement translators should be licensed on channels 2 through 59 and not for out-of-core channels 60 through 69. Additionally, stations seeking to use channels 50 to 59 for translators must certify to the commission in their applications that a suitable in-core channel was unavailable.

The commission also tentative concluded that replacement translators should be given licensing priority over LPTV applications and those of other translators, with the exception of displacement applications. The commission also seeks comment on its tentative conclusion that it should limit eligibility for replacement translators to those full-power stations that can demonstrate a portion of their analog service area is going uncovered by their post-transition DTV facility.

The notice also asks for comment on the effect, if any, of these new replacement translators on the use of unlicensed white space devices in the future.

The commission also wants comment on its tentative conclusion that it will allow slight expansions to a station’s digital service area stemming from the impossibility in some instances of locating the translator in a place where there will be no coverage expansion.