The FCC revealed details of its election process for DTV channel allotment during its Aug. 4 meeting. At the meeting, it was determined that TV stations must elect their channel for post-transition digital broadcasting. Most currently have two channels, one for analog signals and the other for digital signals. After the switchover is completed, stations must have one digital channel within the core -- channels 2 through 51. Station licensees must choose a channel, subject to commission evaluation of interference protection for all stations.
Key pre-election dates include:
- Aug. 3: The Media Bureau froze new applications to stabilize the database.
- Prior to Oct. 1: Stations encouraged to check the accuracy of database technical information on file with the commission.
- October: The commission will issue a Table of Station Information so broadcasters will know the DTV service populations for the election process.
- November: Channel election process begins with all stations certifying their database technical information and their intent to replicate or maximize on their post-transition channel.
The channel election process will consist of three rounds:
- Round one, December: Stations with two in-core channels elect the channel they prefer to retain for digital broadcasting, and stations with one in-core and one out-of-core channel elect whether to use the in-core channel for post-transition digital operation.
- Round two, July 2005: Stations without a current in-core channel assignment elect a channel from those available after the first round.
- Round three, January 2006: Stations not yet assigned a channel, or assigned channel 2 through 6, may elect a channel from those available after the second round.
Between rounds, the commission will announce which channels are protected, in conflict and available. Stations with conflicts will decide whether to accept interference and remain on elected channels or move to the next election round.
After the third round, the commission will resolve remaining conflicts.
In August 2006, the FCC will issue a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking proposing and seeking comment on the new DTV Table of Allotments.