FCC Seeks to Remove Obsolete Analog TV Rules

(Image credit: FCC)

WASHINGTON—With the cessation of LPTV analog broadcasts last year, the FCC is marking the official end of analog TV broadcasting in the U.S. by updating or outright eliminating analog TV rules. 

The transition to all digital broadcasting in the U.S. stretched over several decades with the first deadline coming in 2009 with the end of full-power analog TV broadcasts. The second phase involved the auction of broadcast spectrum in 2017 and the multi-year broadcast spectrum repack, which ended in 2020. With the aforementioned cessation of low-power analog TV broadcasting, the commission is seeking public comment (NPRM) on what rules are irrelevant, obsolete and what rules need to be updated. 

Specifically it wants to consider deleting, updating, or otherwise revising commission rules for full power and Class A stations that no longer have any practical effect post-digital transition plus it  wants to restructure sections of the commission’s rules that cover technical licensing, operating, and interference rules for full power television. “The proposed restructuring will make the rules more streamlined and easily understandable for our licensees and the public,” the commission said.

In 2021, the FCC adopted a new Table of TV Allotments for full power television stations, and amended part of its rules (part 74) to remove references to channels and frequency bands that were no longer in-core television spectrum, and analog TV operations. The new Table codified commission actions taken over the past several years that modified the TV channel allotments because of the incentive auction and repack. Some of the changes were also due to the 2009 DTV transition. 

In July the commission issued an NPRM proposing to modify rules for digital operations that were previously applicable to low-power analog operations, updating geographic coordinates, modifying station identification requirements, requiring LPTV stations to transmit with a virtual channel that avoids conflicts with other stations, updating the process for filing applications with the commission, and making certain technical modifications.

Proposals include:

  • The elimination of entire rules and portions of rules that provide for analog-to-analog and analog-to-digital interference protection requirements and other analog operating requirements;
  • Amend section headings and language in rules to remove references to DTV, digital, and analog television service, as these distinctions are no longer necessary;
  • Delete outdated rules that are no longer valid given changes in commission-adopted policy, such as the elimination of the comparative hearing process to award and renew broadcast licenses, and
  • Update previously-adopted station license periods and delete obsolete rules governing the post-incentive auction transition period and update filing rules and correct outdated, confusing or incorrect information on forms and rules.

The NPRM can be viewed here

Tom Butts

Tom has covered the broadcast technology market for the past 25 years, including three years handling member communications for the National Association of Broadcasters followed by a year as editor of Video Technology News and DTV Business executive newsletters for Phillips Publishing. In 1999 he launched digitalbroadcasting.com for internet B2B portal Verticalnet. He is also a charter member of the CTA's Academy of Digital TV Pioneers. Since 2001, he has been editor-in-chief of TV Tech (www.tvtech.com), the leading source of news and information on broadcast and related media technology and is a frequent contributor and moderator to the brand’s Tech Leadership events.