FCC advances DTV channel election process

The FCC moved closer last week to completing one of the DTV transition’s key remaining tasks: determining permanent digital channels for TV broadcasters.

In the Second DTV Periodic Report and Order, released August 2004, the FCC adopted a multi-round channel election process by which TV broadcasters would receive their ultimate DTV channel inside the core broadcast spectrum (channels 2-51).

In February 2005, more than 1700 broadcasters filed an election for their channel preference for final DTV operations with the FCC. Of that number, 1628 stations elected either their existing NTSC or digital channel. Another 50 stations elected to forego a round one election and participate in round two.

In addition, 62 stations participated in 37 negotiated channel arrangements (NCAs) that were filed with the FCC. In an NCA, stations within a market were permitted to enter into an agreement to elect channels other than their own, so long as every station potentially affected was included in the agreement.

Last week, the FCC took two key steps towards creating a Final DTV Table of Allotments. First, the Media Bureau released an order approving 25 NCAs and rejecting 12 NCAs. The stations participating in the approved NCAs would receive tentative channel designations for the channels contained in the agreements; the stations participating in the rejected NCAs reverted to their alternate channel elections and were considered during the general round one conflict analysis.

Second, the commission sent approximately 155 conflict letters to stations that elected their NTSC channel for digital operation but FCC engineering analysis indicated would result in impermissible interference. The stations now have 60 days to inform the FCC how they will resolve the interference conflict.

The FCC said it would complete round one later this summer and commence round two elections in the fall.

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