GAO report paints positive picture of broadcast industry’s DTV preparations

The majority of TV broadcasters in the United States are prepared for the February 2009 DTV transition, but some issues, including the build out of digital facilities, agreements with foreign governments and channel assignments, remain, according to a report prepared last month by the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO).

The report, “Digital Television Transition: Majority of Broadcasters Are Prepared for the DTV Transition, but Some Technical and Coordination Issues Remain,” dated April 30, found that 91 percent of the 1122 full-power TV broadcasters responding to the GAO currently are transmitting a digital signal. Sixty-eight percent of those stations are at full power with their digital transmission, the report found.

According to the report, 23 percent of respondents said they would be moving their digital channel to their assigned analog channel assignment, and others would be moving to a new channel assignment. A total of 9 percent said they currently are not transmitting digitally, but “almost all” of the stations will do so by the digital transition deadline, the report said.

Of the respondents telling the GAO that technical work remained, 13 percent said they still needed to install or relocate their digital or analog antenna. Some also need to order equipment or build out their digital facilities.

Among the respondents, some stations along the Canadian and Mexican border reported they still needed to reach agreements with those nations’ governments before proceeding with the build out of their digital facilities.

While the FCC has provided substantial guidance to broadcasters since 1987 as the DTV transition process has unfolded, the GAO survey found that some stations continue to wait for decisions from the commission to complete their transition. Those issues include approval of construction permits and changes to final channel assignments, the report said.

To read the report, visit