The DTV Countdown: Continuing Coverage of the DTV Transition
According to the FCC, 927 stations have declared that they plan to pull the plug on analog June 12, with 158 stations saying they want to switch earlier than that.
Almost half of those say they want to go April 16, the earliest the FCC will let them. Over 600 stations have already pulled the plug, but the remaining thousand-plus cover the majority of the country.
The 927 stations are good to go. The FCC will have to approve the other 158, which it said it will do "expeditiously." It will need to, since the 75 or so stations going April 16, if the FCC lets them, need to start informing their viewers of that fact by tomorrow to meet the FCC's own mandatory 30-day viewership notification.
The FCC late Tuesday released a list of stations and when they had chosen to make the switch.
According to an FCC source, there are not many tough calls among the 158, so the FCC should be able to decide quickly. There are a mix of different affiliations among those 158, but PBS had the most early plug-pullers. The FCC has already allowed some noncoms to go as early as March 27, giving them hardship waivers.
Major network affiliates that want to go early can't all go in the same market unless somebody stays on with at least an analog nightlight service, similar to the rules for stations that wanted to pull the plug Feb. 17.
The FCC considers major network affiliates a key news and information outlet in each market.
Stations that plan to stay on the air in analog until June 12 will essentially be locked into that decision save for extenuating circumstances like financial hardship.