The big transmitter covering a station's entire market has been a staple of
broadcasting since the industry's inception in the 1920s, but in many large
markets, the powerful tower soon could be a thing of the past, replaced by a
series of lower-power transmitters along the lines of the cellular-telephone
The Federal Communications Commission is considering allowing digital-TV stations to replace their
main high-power transmitters with several low-power transmitters operating on
the same channel throughout their markets. The aim is to reduce interference in
congested areas where crowded dials create channel conflicts.
A Spectrum Policy Task Force report indicated that the FCC is considering the
idea, and sources said a proposed rulemaking is also in the works.
The concept has been gaining support in the broadcast industry since it was
floated by consultancy Merrill Weiss Group in 2000.
In June of this year, 17 organizations -- including the National Association of Broadcasters, the Association for
Maximum Service Television (MSTV), the Association for Public Television Stations and
several TV-station groups -- urged the FCC to implement the idea under existing
authority to grant primary status to each facility in a station's array of main
and booster transmitters.