Four Stations Waiting For FCC Approval On Earlier Analog Cut-Off Dates

These full-power stations cited various hardships, circumstances that would make a June 12 switch difficult

There are only four full-power TV stations whose analog cut-off dates the FCC still has to approve. They want to go earlier than the FCC is allowing without meeting conditions they say they can't meet.

So far, 637 stations have pulled the plug on analog. By last week, 927 stations had said they would keep the analog light burning until the June 12 hard date, while 158 said they wanted to go early. Of those, the vast majority simply had to self-certify that they were either not a Big Four network affiliate or that if they were, there would still be analog service from another Big Four affiliate through June 12, reaching at least 90% of their market. In that case, they pretty much had the green light to go between April 16 and June 12 without the FCC having to weigh in. A handful of noncommercial stations also got waivers to pull the plug before April 16, which is the earliest the FCC said they could start pulling the plug again after the Feb. 17 date.

But four affiliated stations that otherwise would not be able to end analog before June 12 joined the noncoms in pleading various hardships or exigent circumstances. They filed on March 17 and the FCC at press time had yet to make a decision, or at least announce one.

Here are the four affiliates--two each of CBS and Fox--whose analog cut-off date has yet to be officially deterimined.

Reiten Television's KXMB-TV Bismarck-Dicksinson, ND (CBS), said it wanted to go only two weeks early--May 28--so that it could cannibalize its analog transmitter to allow it to repurpose them in the digital equipment for a pair of its satellite stations with which it is able to reach its sparsely populated market.

Hoak Media's KAUZ-TV Wichita Falls (CBS) says it has to pull the plug early (May 21) so it can move the DTV antenna to the top of its tower mast currently occupied by the analog antenna. That means it can't provide analog nightlight service or guarantee that another affiliate will continue full service to 90% of the market because all other affiliates there have already switched off their analog.

Nexstar's KARD(TV) West Monroe, LA (Fox) wants to go on April 16, saying that it's operating at 50% power as it is because a transmission tube failed, resulting in "unstable operation." It says there are not replacement parts available, used parts are unreliable, and staffers have to travel 50 miles from the studio to the transmitter site. "This creates a hardship on station staff and imposes inefficient demands on the station’s resources and personnel time," says Nexstar, saying two to three visits per week are required to "monitor and shore up" its analog transmission facilities.

Rounding out the quartet is Mission Broadcasting's KTVE(TV) El Dorado, Ark. (NBC), which wants to pull the plug April 16 as well, trumping Nexstar with only 40% power to its analog transmitter and making strikingly similar arguments. That is no surprise since Nexstar owns the KTVE, too, under the Mission brand and the stations share the same hyphenated market (Monroe-El Dorado), as well as the same transmitter site.