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Martin wants to boost stations’ DTV coverage

FCC chairman Kevin Martin said last week that he wants new rules for distributed transmission systems (DTS) that will allow broadcasters to improve or extend their digital coverage. This attempt at signal boosting will also be on the FCC’s Nov. 4 agenda.

Stations could use multiple low-power transmitters, all operating on the same channel as the station’s main signal. “DTS would provide for some additional flexibility for broadcasters to make sure that they are able to cover the same basic contour of service,” Martin said a news conference.

The proposed rules will not place limits on the number of ancillary transmitters and towers that a station may build, Martin said. Instead, the rules limit the power of the transmitters. Stations would be able to locate the transmitters in any way that they feel duplicates their analog coverage.

Martin said he was prompted to push DTS after events in Wilmington, NC, when WECT lost a significant number of analog viewers after the switch was pulled.

Earlier, during congressional testimony, Martin said about 15 percent of TV stations may reach significantly fewer homes after they begin relying solely on their digital signals. He promised to find a fix for the situation. Apparently, this is it.