Twin Cities Public TV Granted Waiver of DTV Simulcast Rules

The FCC granted Twin Cities Public Television (TCPT), licensee of KTCA-DT, a waiver of the current DTV rules requiring the station simulcast at least 50 percent of the programming on its analog channel. TCPT is also licensee of KTCI-DT and said that station would broadcast a multicast of KTCI and KTCA analog programming on its DTV channel, while KTCA-DT would offer continous HDTV programming. In FCC Order DA 03-3499, the FCC said, "We find good cause to grant TPT a waiver of the simulcast requirements in Section 73.624(f), pending the issuance of an order in the second DTV periodic review, to permit it to implement the plan it proposes in its waiver request. By temporarily waiving the current rules, we are permitting TPT to experiment with innovative uses of its other digital channel and to offer additional digital programming to the community." KTCI and KTCA are both located in the Minneapolis-St Paul market.

The FCC said that in the second DTV periodic review, "it will consider, among other issues related to the simulcast requirement, whether the current simulcast rules should be amended to facilitate similar and other innovative uses of digital stations."

The FCC used the Order to remind stations that "This action in no way waives the existing rules regarding the minimum hours of operation on digital channels." Stations are required to air a digital signal for an amount of time equivalent to at least 50 percent of the time its analog channel is on the air and a digital signal must be aired during prime time hours. This percentage will increase to 75 percent on April 1, 2004 and to 100 percent on April 1, 2005. DTV stations not yet on the air must comply with the requirements in effect when they commence operations.