FCC Opens Filing Window for LPTV DTV Channels

In 2004, the FCC established rules and policies in 2004 allowing LPTV, TV translator, and Class A TV stations to switch to digital operation. In October 2005, the commission began accepting applications for on-channel digital conversion of these stations.

In the Public Notice (DA 06-123) released last week, the FCC announced a filing window from May 1, 2006 through May 12, 2006 for existing LPTV, Class A TV and TV translator permittees and licensees to file for digital companion channel applications. The FCC also announced a freeze from April 3, 2006 to May 12, 2006 on the filing of LPTV, TV translator and Class A analog and digital minor change, analog and digital displacement, and digital on-channel conversion applications.

In its notice, the FCC reminded LPTV, TV translator and Class A permittees and licensees that they may either implement an on-channel digital conversion of their analog channel or they may seek a digital companion channel to operate simultaneously with their analog channel. Licensees are not guaranteed a second channel for digital; they must identify a channel that meets FCC interference protection rules and that will protect all authorized analog or digital facilities of TV broadcast stations or authorized analog facilities of TV translator, LPTV, or Class A TV stations. The channel must also protect 700 MHz public safety and commercial wireless licensees.

Applications for companion channel DTV facilities must identify the associated analog station and propose service to the same community of license. Class A permittees and licensees were reminded that all digital companion channels will be licensed as LPTV channels on a secondary non-interfering basis.

At some point, full power TV stations will have to return one of their channels. LPTV, Class A TV and TV translator stations will have to do the same if they receive a companion channel.

Once the freeze ends, LPTV, Class A TV and TV translator minor change and displacement applications will again be accepted. On-air stations demonstrating that they face "imminent disruption of service" may request special temporary authority to continue operations.

For more details concerning digital companion channels and the filing freeze, refer to Public Notice (DA 06-123).