FCC gives 368 stations nod to shutoff analog Feb. 17; denies 123 requests

The FCC last week said it would allow 368 full-power TV stations to proceed with their plans to shutdown analog transmission Feb. 17, but denied the request of 123 other stations.

In a public notice released Feb. 11, the commission said that after reviewing 491 notices from stations to terminate analog service Feb. 17, it concluded that the shutoff of 123 would pose “a significant risk of substantial public harm.” The FCC used a variety of considerations to make that determination, including a list of markets in which all stations would end analog service Feb. 17; markets in which ABC, CBS, FOX and NBC affiliates would end analog service, or markets in which all major broadcasters would cease analog on Feb. 17; loss of major networks; or affiliates in larger DMAs.

“We considered the presence of major networks and their affiliates critical to ensuring that viewers have access to local news and public affairs available over the air, because the major network affiliates are the primary source of local broadcast news and public affairs programming,” the notice said.

The commission held out the opportunity for stations denied analog termination on Feb. 17 the chance to do so if they certify that they have met an extensive list of specific criteria laid out in the notice. Stations that certify they have met the conditions by Feb. 13 at 6 p.m. could proceed with their transition without further authorization.

Stations on that list that don’t certify also were given the chance to shut off early if they face “extraordinary, exigent circumstances, such as the unavoidable loss of their analog site or extreme economic hardship” that requires early termination. Stations falling into that category were required to file documentation with the commission and await a determination by the FCC.

Editor’s note:Listen to how Jim Ogle, VP and general manager of WIBW-TV in Topeka, KS, one of the stations denied the chance to make the DTV transition, describes what his station is facing in this issue’s Sound Off.