President Signs 'Analog Night Light' bill

'Night light' conjures up images of a CRT glowing in a dark house.

On the Tuesday just before Christmas, President Bush signed the “Short-term Analog Flash and Emergency Readiness Act," aka the “SAFER” Act, which I've also heard called the "analog night-light bill."

“Night light” conjures up images of a CRT glowing in a dark house. The FCC is expected to issue a Notice of Proposed Rule Making (NPRM) soon that will list stations eligible to participate in the program and perhaps provide more information on the type of DTV transition informational programming and emergency programming that will be allowed. The Act requires the information be broadcast in English and Spanish.

From the e-mail I have received about the act, there appears to be a lot of confusion about what will be allowed. First, only stations with analog channels between 2 and 51 will be eligible. Second, participation in the program is voluntary, not mandatory. As I interpret the Act, no station will be required to keep their analog transmitter on the air after February 17. Third, the Act requires the FCC protect other DTV stations and public safety communications from interference from the analog night-lights. The NPRM will outline the interference criteria in the NPRM, but given all the channel changes post-transition, don't be surprised if many stations don't qualify.

For the stations that meet the interference requirements, the Act limits broadcasting to “only the public safety information and digital transition information specified in subsection (b).”

Subsection (b) reads:

(b) INFORMATION REQUIRED- The program required by subsection (a) shall provide for the broadcast of--
(1) emergency information, including critical details regarding the emergency, as broadcast or required to be broadcast by full-power stations in the digital television service;
(2) information, in both English and Spanish, and accessible to persons with disabilities, concerning--
(A) the digital television transition, including the fact that a transition has taken place and that additional action is required to continue receiving television service, including emergency notifications; and
(B) the steps required to enable viewers to receive such emergency information via the digital television service and to convert to receiving digital television service, including a phone number and Internet address by which help with such transition may be obtained in both English and Spanish; and
(3) such other information related to consumer education about the digital television transition or public health and safety or emergencies as the Commission may find to be consistent with the public interest.

Read more of Doug Lung's RF Report here.