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FCC Announces App Rules for Rural DTV LPTV and Translators

With the completion of the DTV transition on June 12, there has been a lot of interest in the channels freed up after analog was shut off. As has been pointed out during the debate on TV band devices (aka "white space devices') in many markets there are few open channels because TV stations are now limited to Channels 2–51 and at least five of those are low VHF channels with known reception issues. This week the FCC "cut-off" LPTV, translator and Class A displacement applications filed for channels vacated in the transition in its Public Notice (DA 09-1487) [PDF] announcing "commencement of nationwide, first-come, first-served digital licensing for low power television and TV translator services."

The new licenses are for digital operation only and new Class A licenses will not be offered. Applicants for licenses in rural areas more than 121 kilometers (75 miles) from the 100 cities listed in Appendix A of the Public Notice can begin filing applications August 25, 2009. Applications for new licenses and major modifications for LPTV and TV translator stations anywhere in the country will be accepted starting Jan. 25, 2010. For a look at DTV reception in an area some may not consider rural, see the article Digital TV means no TV for rural folks in the Newark Advocate.

Since June 12, stations have filed applications to increase power and change channels. Recognizing this, the FCC issued this warning to people filing applications: "We also remind applicants that additional adjustments in the facilities and assigned channels of full-power television broadcast stations may be required as the transition of that service to digital mode is optimized. These adjustments, the extent of which is not fully known at this time, could have an adverse impact, including displacement, on applicants filing under the procedures in this Public Notice."

Doug Lung is one of America's foremost authorities on broadcast RF technology. He has been with NBC since 1985 and is currently vice president of broadcast technology for NBC/Telemundo stations.