Paxson Shuffles Off DTV in Buffalo

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The FCC has approved its first so-called "flash-cut," allowing Paxson to turn in its digital channel in Buffalo, N.Y., and broadcast in analog-only until the official switch to digital.

Paxson's WPXJ is voluntarily turning in its digital channel asignment (53)--it was not yet broadcasting a DTV signal, according to the FCC--and will continue to broadcast in analog on its current channel (51), agreeing to "flash-cut" to digital on that channel by the end of the transition.

The FCC has eight more pending requests to "flash-cut."

While most stations are required to broadcast in both analog and digital during the transition, stations other than affiliates of the top four networks whose digital allotments are outside the core channels 2-51, are allowed to turn those non-core digital channels (52-59) back to the government and broadcast in analog-only on their in-core channel before switching over to digital-only on that same channel by the deadline for the digital changeover.

The reason behind allowing the flash-cuts and give-backs is to more swiftly clear out broadcasters so the upper spectrum tier can be reclaimed for auctioning for advanced wireless services and emergency communications..

Paxson made the request in February, and FCC approval was expected since the commission presumes such flash cuts to be in the public interest "if the station demonstrates that it is assigned a DTV channel out of the core and that grant of the request would not result in the loss of a DTV channel affiliated with one of the four largest national television networks (ABC, CBS, NBC, or Fox)."

WPXJ filled the bill on both counts.

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