The FCC will allow an Alabama station to broadcast two digital signals in the immediate run-up to the DTV transition, in part to show that it is willing to be flexible and work with broadcasters.
In an order released Wednesday, the FCC said it was granting CBS affiliate WAKA-DTV in Selma, Alabama, special temporary authority to begin operating on its post-transition digital channel a month before the transition. It has been operating a digital signal already, per FCC requirement, on channel 55. But as with a number of other stations, it is moving to a different digital channel (42) after the transition.
WAKA is pulling the plug on analog early as well, on Dec. 1. The station asked to broadcast on channel 42 a month early because it said it would make it easier to set up cable and satellite carriage fot the new channel.
It also asked to be able to broadcast on its new digital channel at reduced power to make it easier to transition its equipment from the old and new channel, saying the alternative would be to pull the plug on its DTV signal on the pre-transition channel (55) for as long as a month. Since it is pulling the plug on analog on Dec. 1--it didn't say why it had to do that--it would essentially be going dark for that period.
The FCC said that it was in the public interest to prevent that loss of service and to allow for reduced power due to "unique technical challenges" and pointed out that most of the affected viewers would be able to receive another CBS affiliate. It also said if there are any problems, it could terminate the order.
FCC Commissioner Jonathan Adelstein said he was supporting the order "because it is important for us to send a clear message to broadcasters that the Commission and staff are poised to provide them with the necessary flexibility to upgrade their facilities to digital and serve their viewers."
Commissioner Michael Copps said he wasn't sure it was the best solution but that the FCC had not identified a better option.