FCC Officially Moves DTV Date

Is waiving the requirement of notice, public comment and a 30-day delay period on commission actions

The FCC released an order Friday evening officially moving the deadline for the discontinuation of analog broadcasts from Feb. 17 to June 12.

In doing so, it said it was waiving the Administrative Procedures Act's requirement of notice, public comment and a 30-day delay period on commission actions, pointing to its tight deadlines and a reading of the date-move bill it says justifies the call.

The order is not to be confused with the guidelines the FCC issued last week about how it would implement the date move, which was ordered by Congress in a bill that was passed last week and signed into law by the President this week. But the FCC did use the Friday order to change a couple of things on those implementation guidelines.

For one, it concluded that stations do not have to provide emergency information in Spanish on their analog nightlight
signals (they must still provide DTV information in Spanish, however).

For another, it will allow stations that previously said they wanted to cut off analog on Feb. 17 but now have changed
their minds, to do so.

In last week's guidance, the commission had said that it would only let them change their minds unless it were an
emergency or a disaster. Any other stations who were planning to go on Feb. 17--there were 368 of them--who now want to stay on must inform the commission by Sunday, Feb. 15, at 6 p.m., adding another to the growing list of DTV-related dates.

The order also delegates to the Media Bureau the decisions on the 123 stations who told the FCC they wanted to pull the plug on Feb. 17 but are in markets where all the network affiliates want to shut off analog on Feb. 17. The FCC isn't
letting those 123 stations do so unless they comply with various conditions after concluding that it could not let all the
affiliates in a market switch.

Among the conditions are that someone in the market, not necessarily on of the 123 stations, has to maintain an analog
signal for at least 60 days providing nes and public affairs as well as emergency and DTV transition info.

Stations had until 6 p.m. Friday night (Feb. 13) to let the FCC know whether they planned to comply with those conditions, and the FCC was still working through those at press time.