FCC Greenlights 368 TV Stations to Ditch Analog

The Federal Communications Commission late Wednesday (Feb. 11) gave the green light to 368 full-power TV stations to shut off their analog signals on Feb. 17, the original DTV deadline. At the same time, the FCC identified 123 stations that won’t be permitted to make the switch on Feb. 17 as requested, unless they comply with certain conditions and procedures.

According to the FCC’s analysis, early termination of the 123 station “poses a significant risk of substantial public harm.”

This week, President Obama signed legislation that moved the DTV deadline from Feb. 17 to June 12.

The 123 TV stations are in markets where all four of the major network affiliates have decided to switch, in Burlington, Vt.; Dayton, Ohio; Eugene, Ore.; Billings, Mont.; Lincoln, Neb.; Madison, Wis.; Mobile, Ala.; Providence, R.I.; Rockford, Ill.; La Crosse, Wis.; Charleston, W.V.; Santa Barbara, Calif.; Sioux City, Iowa; South Bend, Ind.; Topeka, Kan.; Waco, Tex.; Wausau, Wis.; and Wichita, Kan.

The stations may still be able to make the DTV transition as long as they take specific measures “ameliorate the public interest harms.” Among the measures stations could take include making sure at least one station will continue broadcasting an analog signal providing DTV transition and emergency information, along with local news and public affairs programming for 60 days. Stations individually or collectively in a market could provide local or toll-free telephone assistance and engineering support, even set up a consumer walk-in center to assist consumers.

About 200 TV stations have already made the digital switch, adding up to about one-third of the nation’s TV stations set to shut off analog signals on Feb. 17

Several major market affiliate groups and the network owned-and-operated stations of ABC, CBS, Fox and NBC, have indicated to the FCC that they would honor the new June 12 deadline.