FCC Identifies Hundreds Of Stations With DTV Coverage Gaps
The FCC late Tuesday said it was releasing two reports with maps and charts outlinging the changes in TV station coverage areas.
By John Eggerton -- Broadcasting & Cable, 12/23/2008 10:53:00 AM
The FCC late Tuesday said it was releasing two reports with maps and charts outlining the changes in TV coverage areas from analog to digital service for all 1,749 full-power TV staions in the U.S. They show that 89% of stations (1,533) will see a net gain of viewers in the switch to digital, while 11% (196 stations) will have a net loss.
They are net gains and losses, so even the net gains could have some viewers who lose historically-viewed signals, with those offset by ones who now get the digital signals but didn't get them before.
The FCC also said it was releasing a report on the 319 stations where more than 2% of the viewers getting an analog signal will not get the comparable digital signal. But the FCC says that number overstates the impact of the deficits since it includes folks who are getting cable and satellite service, which is about 85% of viewers on average in any market. Those viewers are not affected by the over-the-air gaps.
Neither report had been posted on the Web site at press time, but were expected to be.
News of those roadmaps for DTV coverage fixes came soon after the FCC commissioners voted unanimously to allow broadcasters to help fill in areas where digital coverage is smaller or different than analog
FCC Chairman Kevin Martin asked broadcasters to spread the word to viewers about the differences in coverage area revealed by the side-by-side comparisons. The issue came to the fore after coverage area differences were identified in Wilmington, NC, after its early analog cut-off.
“It is critical that broadcasters use the information in these reports to inform their viewers about how changes in their coverage may affect them,” said Martin in a statement. “We expect broadcasters to make this information readily available and include it in all of their DTV educational materials.”
The commission said that stations can restore service to viewers in coverage gaps via a number of ways, including using translators, using another station's multicasting DTV spectrum; boosting power, or changing the station's antenna pattern.
The FCC has pledged to work with broadcasters to try and resolve coverage issues, pushed by legislators eager to avoid calls from unhappy viewers.
MORE DISENFRANCHISED VIEWERS - not just those who aren't "ready," but viewers who have done everything the DTV transition campaign told them to do -- and they STILL won't get full service. UNACCEPTABLE. The analog shut-off must be delayed, or expect legal challenges, maybe even denial of service class action lawsuits. Then there's the advertiser makegoods issue; turn off analog before coverage gaps are filled in and they'll demand compensation. Congress can save the industry and the FCC big headaches by mandating continuation of analog service. Canada's target date for analog shut-off is Aug. 31, 2011 -- an extra 2-1/2 years to do it right. Hearings into the handling of the transition also would be in order. For more: nowpublic.com/world/u-s-tvs-digital-deadline-obama-eras-first-consumer-crisis
Vic Livingston, columnist, members.NowPublic.com/scrivener - 12/23/2008 6:46:00 PM EST
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