FCC Proposes 2012 Low Power DTV Transition Deadline

Date coincides with timeline given to stations in 2009 to construct digital facilities

The FCC has put low power TV stations on notice
that they need to come up with a digital conversion plan, and has
proposed a 2012 hard deadline to cut the analog cord. "With the full power
transition now complete and providing the incentive for
viewers, we believe it is appropriate to now require low power television stations
to complete their transition to digital," the commission said Friday.

While full-power broadcasters had to pull the plug
June 12, 2009, low-power stations had no such deadline.

The commission issued a Notice of Proposed
Rulemaking Friday teeing up a variety of issues that need to be resolved,
including whether to adopt a hard deadline for the low-power analog
shut-off. "We propose that this time frame provides the
best balance of allowing low power stations the flexibility needed for a successful
transition to digital while ensuring that the transition occurs as quickly as
possible," the commission said.

A 2012 deadline would also coincide with the three
years the FCC gave low-power stations back in 2009 to construct
digital facilities.

The FCC says that it will entertain suggestions
for an earlier deadline, but says it is concerned that stations
could transition to digital channels that might no longer be available when the
FCC reallocates spectrum as part of the national broadband

Low-power stations operating in channels 52-69,
where full-power broadcasters have already been moved out to make way for
wireless carriers, would be asked to vacate earlier, by Dec. 31, 2011.

The final comment date on the order is 90 days after publication in the
federal register.