FCC Gives Alaska LPTVs More Time for Digital Transition

(Image credit: SMITHGROUPJJR)

WASHINGTON, D.C.—Faced with a looming July 13 deadline for cutting off analog signals on low-power TV stations, the FCC has granted the state of Alaska a delay until January 10, 2022 to cut off analog signals and complete the upgrade to digital for 15 LPTV/ translator stations. 

In its request for a waiver to the July deadline, the state of Alaska noted that it has owned a network of analog TV translator stations located in rural and in Alaska Native communities since the late 1970s. 

This system, which is now called the Alaska Rural Communications System (ARCS), provides free, over-the-air television and radio programming with essential news, weather, emergency alerts and other services to those communities. 

Many of those sites in the network have been upgraded but the work on 15 was not completed due to a variety of construction delays. The remote location of some of these sites, difficult weather conditions that limit work to only a few months each year and the pandemic helped produce the delays, Alaska told the FCC 

“We find that a grant of [the state of Alaska’s] request for a limited waiver...is justified due to a novel set of facts and circumstances that have prevented [Alaska] from completing the digital transition for these operational analog Stations and given the remote Alaskan communities for which these Stations are the sole source of video programming,” the FCC ruled. 

The FCC also ruled that “we find that there will be little if any impact or burden on other television broadcasters or the overall LPTV digital transition by allowing a very small number of rural Alaskan LPTV/translator stations to continue to operate in analog for a limited period of time.” 

It did require, however, that “the State of Alaska shall submit a progress report detailing the status of the digital construction for the stations.”

George Winslow

George Winslow is the senior content producer for TV Tech. He has written about the television, media and technology industries for nearly 30 years for such publications as Broadcasting & Cable, Multichannel News and TV Tech. Over the years, he has edited a number of magazines, including Multichannel News International and World Screen, and moderated panels at such major industry events as NAB and MIP TV. He has published two books and dozens of encyclopedia articles on such subjects as the media, New York City history and economics.