NTIA Makes Funds Available for Translators

FCC Allowing Low-Power TV Stations to Broadcast Analog Signals After Feb. 17, 2009

Low-power TV stations, station translators and boosters can now apply for government subsidies for their own DTV-to-analog converter technology.

Translators and boosters help to extend TV stations' signals to hard-to-reach areas -- mountainous terrain for example.

The Federal Communications Commission gave those stations more time to make the switch to digital, so they are still allowed to broadcast analog signals after Feb. 17, 2009, when full-power stations must make the switch.

The National Telecommunications & Information Administration, as part of administering the DTV-to-analog converter-box program, was given $10 million to help those stations buy equipment to convert digital signals from the stations whose signals they are rebroadcasting.

As of Oct. 29, stations could apply for up to $1,000 to help pay for a converter device.

According to the FCC, there are 2,100 LPTV stations, 4,700 translators and boosters and 600 class-A stations, which are LPTV stations with certain interference protections and programming obligations. But them majority of the stations needing the converters are translators and boosters.

The FCC has yet to decide when to require those stations to switch over to digital, and some, including the trade association for LPTV stations, expressed concerns that the government's DTV-education campaign does not cover scenarios in which viewers will not lose analog service Feb. 17, 2009, because they are viewing signals from an LPTV or translator/booster.

The Community Broadcasters Association pointed out that there are four times as many stations that don't have to make the switch Feb. 17, 2009, as those that do.