FCC Posts Transition Procedures

The FCC has posted its procedures for analog TV signal termination in light of the extended deadline awaiting the President’s signature. Legislation passed by Congress yesterday moves the DTV transition deadline from Feb. 17 to June 12.

“Stations may have made extensive preparations for a Feb. 17 digital transition and some may have difficulty altering their commitments at this time,” the FCC notice states.

Stations planning to shut down Feb. 17 regardless of the new deadline are catching a break on the FCC’s previously established procedures for early shut-off, e.g., FCC approval and 60 days of notifying viewers.

“The commission did not anticipate delay of the statutory deadline at the time that it adopted these requirements, and compliance with them by Feb. 17 would not be impossible,” the notice says.

Stations must nonetheless let the FCC know by Feb. 9 if they plan to shut down Feb. 17. The FCC also reserved the right to limit or reconsider its waiver if doing so is determined to be in the public interest.

“The commission may consider such action if, for example, we find that all or most of the stations in a market will terminate analog service on Feb.17, and that the market is one in which many viewers are unprepared for the transition or at risk if the transition proceeds,” the notice states. “In such case, we may require affected stations to submit additional information to explain and justify how their early termination advances the public interest. Such additional information can include significant economic, technical, contractual and other business reasons that support termination on Feb. 17.”

Details of the notice are on the FCC’s Web site at www.fcc.gov.