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NAB, MSTV Ask for 'Flexible' DTV Rules

NAB and MSTV are asking the FCC for more flexibility in its rules regarding the June 12 DTV extension.

In comments filed with the FCC last week in response to its recent NPRM (FCC 09-11) on the transition extension, the associations noted “viewer fatigue” with endless DTV education announcements and urged the FCC to reduce the number of required announcements. The broadcasters also supported allowing stations to shut off analog transmission at anytime on June 12 and asked for increased flexibility for stations wishing to cease analog broadcasting before June 12.

The FCC said it expected to adopt an order finalizing the procedures and requirements for stations seeking to shut off analog prior to June 12 no later than March 13. Although the final rules have yet to be posted on the FCC Web site, they should be available later today.

The FCC established next Tuesday, March 17, as “the date certain by which stations must notify us of the date on which they intended to terminate analog service.” Any station that does not notify the FCC by that date will be assumed to be terminating analog service on June 12, 2009 and will not be permitted to shut off analog earlier “except in the case of equipment failure, natural disaster, or other unforeseeable emergency.”

In addition to listing required DTV education announcements and programs, the rules will also determine whether stations will be allowed to shut down any time on June 12, as the FCC suggested in the NPRM, or have to wait until 11:59:59 PM.

All comments can be viewed using the FCC Search for Filed Comments form. Enter 09-17 in Box 1, “Proceeding”.