LPTV Digital Transition Deadline Approaches, Reminds Media Bureau

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WASHINGTON—The FCC Media Bureau has reminded low power television and TV translator stations of the approaching July 13 deadline to complete their digital transition. All analog TV transmission must cease by 11:59 p.m. local time on that date.

The requirement to end analog TV transmission stands regardless of whether the digital facilities of an LPTV or TV translator station are operational. Stations that have not completed their digital facilities as of the deadline must remain silent until construction is finished. These stations should file a request with the agency for authority to go silent, the Media Bureau said in a public notice.

The notice also instructed LPTV/translator stations experiencing delays completing their digital facility that they may request one final extension of no more than 180 days for their digital construction permit. An application for the extension must be filed no later than March 15 and must include an exhibit demonstrating that failure to meet the construction deadline is the result of circumstances that were unforeseeable or beyond the station’s control and that all steps to resolve the problem in an expeditious manner have been taken. No granted extension will exceed the July 13 deadline, the notice said.

The notice listed a variety of circumstances, such as delays in getting zoning approvals, inability to obtain equipment or financial hardship. It noted acceptable circumstances are not limited to these reasons.

LPTV/translator stations filing an extension request must include:

  • An accounting of the steps taken to finish the construction. Dates for each step are required;
  • A detailed description of the circumstances outside the station’s control preventing completion, with dates of each circumstance; and 
  • A timeline plan of how and when the station expects to complete construction and begin digital operation 

If financial hardship is the reason, the station’s extension application must include: an itemized estimate of the cost of buildout; a detailed statement explaining why the station’s financial condition precludes the expenditure; a detailed accounting of the filer’s good-faith efforts to meet the deadline, including efforts to obtain financing and why those efforts failed; and an indication of when the applicant reasonably expects to complete construction, the notice said.

Any additional time to construct digital facilities after March 15 may only be sought under the agency’s “tolling” rule, which “provides that a construction permit may be tolled only for specific circumstances not under the licensee’s control,” such as an act of God, it said.

The bureau also reminded LPTV/translator stations of other related filing date recommendations and deadlines, including:

  • May 1 recommendation for last-minute technical change applications or filings, such as those for a minor change or STA request
  • July 13 filing deadline for Digital-to-Digital Replacement Translator applications 

The Media Bureau also reminded stations needing to suspend operations that they must not remain silent for more than 30 days without FCC authority. Those remaining silent for more than 10 days must notify the agency no later than the 10th day. The license of any station that remains silent for any consecutive 12-month period expires automatically. Under certain circumstances, the FCC may reinstate the license, the notice said.

For LPTV/translator stations with digital companion channels, completion of the transition requires either flash cutting their existing analog facility to digital or surrendering their analog channel and continuing to operate on their digital companion channel. The license of stations choosing to flash cut will be replaced by a new digital license and the permit or license for the digital companion will be cancelled, the bureau said.

The notice also reminded stations of their obligation to inform viewers of the impending termination of analog service.

The notice and detailed instructions on accessing the FCC’s Licensing and Management System (LMS) where pertinent applications and request forms can be found is available online (opens in new tab).

Phil Kurz

Phil Kurz is a contributing editor to TV Tech. He has written about TV and video technology for more than 30 years and served as editor of three leading industry magazines. He earned a Bachelor of Journalism and a Master’s Degree in Journalism from the University of Missouri-Columbia School of Journalism.