WRNN-TV Allowed to Drop Analog Transmission

Although many noncommercial stations have petitioned the FCC to shut down their analog transmissions, commercial broadcasters have shown little interest in shutting off analog transmission before the FCC requires it. Although the circumstances are somewhat unique, last week the FCC granted Kingston, NY-based WRNN-TV's request to turn off its channel 62 analog and broadcast only on channel 48 digital. See RF Report for May 4 for information the WRNN-TV request.

The FCC made it easier for broadcasters on channels 59-69 to shut off analog operation on those channels with the voluntary band-clearing mechanisms it adopted in the Upper 700 MHz Memorandum, Opinion and Order and Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking. The MO&O and FNPRM established a "rebuttable presumption that, in certain circumstances, substantial public interest benefits will arise from a voluntary agreement between a 700 MHz licensee and an incumbent broadcast licensee on Channels 59-69 that clears the 700 MHz band of incumbent television licensee(s). In particular, this favorable presumption attaches to any requests that: (1) would make new or expanded wireless service, such as '2.5' or '3G' services, available to consumers; (2) would clear commercial frequencies that enable provision of public safety services; or (3) would result in the provision of wireless service to rural or other underserved communities." Applicants have to demonstrate that the analog shutdown would not result in the loss of the sole service licensed to the local community, the loss of a community's sole service on a non-commercial educational broadcast channel or the loss of any of the four stations in the DMA with the largest audience share.

In its filings, WRNN-TV acknowledges that shutting off the analog signal would result in loss of an over-the-air analog service. However, in the grant the FCC explained that WRNN said the impact on the public will be "imperceptible since, according to Nielsen Media Research, there was no reportable over-the-air viewing for the station for the month of April 2004."

WRNN-TV moved its DTV transmitter site closer to New York City and these ratings numbers are for the large New York DMA. The FCC grant noted WRNN-TV Limited represented "it will demand that the cable operators initially carry WRNN-DT's over-the air digital signal in an analog format, and provide the cable operators with the conversion equipment necessary to translate the station's over-the-air signal from digital to analog."
For more information on the WRNN-TV shutdown, refer to the July 8, 2004 FCC letter to WRNN-TV Associated Limited.