FCC gives stations four days to file notice of intent to cease analog service on Feb. 17

The FCC Feb. 5 released a public notice giving full-power TV stations until Feb. 9 — just four days — to file analog service termination notices with the agency if they intended to turn off their analog TV transmitters on Feb. 17, the DTV deadline originally set and postponed last week until June 12 by Congress.

In the notice, the commission said it was attempting to balance the interest of viewers who were given more time to prepare for the DTV transition with those of stations that have made extensive preparations for a Feb. 17 transition.

Postponing the DTV transition until June 12 creates two issues for the commission. First, because the delay was not anticipated in the agency’s Third DTV Periodic Report and Order, compliance with language requiring prior FCC approval of analog shutoff is not possible. Second, postponing the deadline means the 60-day notification period during which broadcasters must inform the public of their impending analog switchoff is not possible by Feb. 17.

In the notice, the commission said partially waiving these requirements was justified for stations already planning Feb. 17 analog termination. However, despite creating a path for analog shutoff Feb. 17, the commission reserved the right to limit or reconsider the partial waiver if it decides termination by a particular station or group of stations on the original deadline is not in the public interest.

The notice also required stations that previously had notified the commission of their intention to cease analog transmission on Feb. 17 to notify the FCC again of their plans by Feb. 9.

The notice laid out how stations electing to terminate analog service on Feb. 17 must notify the public in the days preceding the analog shutdown using crawls if feasible. It spelled out the frequency and duration of the crawls in the days leading up to the shutdown.