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FCC Sets Deadline for Filing DTV Channel Election Form 382

The FCC responded to a request filed by the Association for Maximum Service Television (MSTV) that asked for more time to file the first round DTV channel election Form 382. MSTV said it needed more to study the new Table of Station Assignment and Service based on Form 381 filings and to allow it to complete software development that would assist stations in evaluating channel election options and the interference consequences. The FCC agreed with MSTV that more time would allow a smoother and more accurate channel election process and extended the filing deadline for the first round channel election Form 382 until January 27, 2005. The timetable in the DTV transition review Second Report and Order had the deadline in December, although no specific date was mentioned. The Order Granting Extension of Time to File First Round DTV Channel Election Forms was adopted Dec. 17 and released Dec. 21, 2004.

The same day the Order was released, the FCC issued a Public Notice announcing the Form 382 filing deadline. Attached to the Public Notice were three tables. Table 1 - Station Assignment and Service Information - Dec. 21, 2004 lists stations' DTV service areas based on their Form 381 certifications to build replicated, maximized or otherwise authorized DTV facilities for post-transition operation. Where needed, station facilities and service areas were updated based on database corrections submitted with Form 381 and authorizations that were not reflected in the Oct. 7 table.

Stations can use Table II of 1998 Station NTSC and DTV Replication Information to determine compliance with the 80 percent or 100 percent replication requirements that become effective July 2005 (top four networks, top 100 markets) or July 2006 (all other stations). Table II modifies the FCC's 1998 table by using the 2000 census instead of the 1990 census when determining the population served.

Many stations changed their DTV channels through rule making proceedings or channel swap applications. These changes are reflected in Table IIa of 1998 Station NTSC and DTV Replication Information.

The First Round Channel Election Form 382 and instructions are now available on the FCC Web site. There are only three options available on this form--choose between staying on your current DTV channel (if in-core) or return to your in-core analog channel, specify a channel based on a Negotiated Channel Election Arrangement with other stations, or if your station has only one in-core channel or two low-VHF channels you can elect to give up your in-core channel(s) and participate in the second round of channel elections. Note that in all but the second option (a negotiated channel agreement), any unselected in-core channel will be released for other stations to use in the second round. In the case of negotiated channel agreements, once the FCC gives the station a tentative channel designation, its other in-core channels will be released.