FCC Denies Early DTV Switch


Saving money on electric bills isn’t sufficient reason for a station to shut off its old analog signal years ahead of the business, the Federal Communications Commission told Los Angeles outlet KJLA Wednesday.

The station had asked permission to operate only on its digital ch. 49 and through carriage by cable and satellite.

In denying the station’s request to go all-digital right away, Media Bureau Chief Ken Ferree said there are no public benefits that would result from an early turn off of the analog signal.

Most non-pay TV viewers rely on over-the-air reception to get TV. KJLA, which operates in analog on ch. 57, provides Spanish-language broadcasts and their loss would have a “significant impact” on viewers who can’t afford a pay television subscription or a new digital TV, the FCC said.

Ferree dismissed KJLA’s assertion that over-the-air viewers account for less than one percent of its current viewers.

In a market as big as L.A., losing even that small percentage “could result in the disenfranchisement of a significant number of persons,” Ferree told the station.

In favor of the early analog switch off, KJLA showed “only that the private interest of the stations will be served, namely its ability to save money from its analog operation.” 

Ferree said KJLA’s case differed greatly from three other instances where stations were permitted to return analog channels early. In those cases, stations were able to demonstrate little loss of over-the-air service and a urgent need to stem larger operating losses.