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MSTV Requests Extension of Time for First-Round DTV Channel Elections

The Association of Maximum Service Television (MSTV) filed a Request for Extension of Time for First Round DTV Channel Elections until mid-January 2005. Under the Second DTV Periodic Review Report and Order, the date is to be set in December 2004.

"This modest extension of time to prepare for the first round of elections will serve the public interest by ensuring a more reliable and informed channel election process," MSTV said, adding that the extension need not delay completion of the entire channel election process. "Some of the most important and complex steps must be taken prior to or in connection with the first round of elections."

MSTV is working on software to "greatly improve the channel election process by allowing stations and their consulting engineers to quickly evaluate channel election options and interference consequences." Without an extension, this software might not be available for the critical first-round channel election phase.

MSTV said the delay would allow engineers time to study the results of stations' pre-election certifications, explore and develop negotiated channel arrangements, optimize DTV service and reduce the potential for conflicts.

After release of the Report and Order, stations focused on evaluating the technical information in the FCC's database, making necessary filings to ensure accuracy, analyzing FCC Form 381, considering the implications of selecting the various options and determining the final service areas they wanted after the DTV transition. MSTV explained that stations used their resources in ensuring proper pre-election certifications and, "in many cases, resolving complex and long-pending issues that hampered their ability to obtain FCC approval of maximization applications -- and therefore jeopardized their rights to provide maximized service of the long term." MSTV said the extension would give the FCC time to assure that all this information is reflected in the FCC's revised Table of Station Information. If this information isn't accurate, it could lead to "problems and challenges later that could delay completion of the entire channel election process."

MSTV also noted that moving the Form 382 filing deadline into mid-January will "avoid the difficulties of accomplishing the technical and legal analyses and tasks necessary to make proper channel election decisions during the holiday season." MSTV said, "Holiday travel and business closure schedules for these various parties over the next month will make it very difficult for stations to secure the necessary resources and assistance to ensure proper channel election decisions."