Thursday, July 21, 2011

FCC Sets Deadlines For LPTV Conversion To Digital and Operation in Core Spectrum

If you own an analog or digital LPTV station (or television translator or Class A station) that operates on an out-of-core television channel (Channels 52 – 69), you will no longer be able to stay on the air after December 31 of this year. In addition, if you want to move to an in-core channel (Channel 2 through Channel 51), you have to find an available channel and file your displacement application by September 1, 2011, which is just around the corner. After that date, the Commission will no longer accept displacement applications from out-of-core stations. All of these dates and edicts can be found in the FCC’s recently released Second Report and Order on the subject:

The September deadline is reason enough to get hopping on finding an in-core home for your station, if you have any interest in extending the operation of the facility beyond the end of the year. However, there is another reason to consider submitting a displacement application to the FCC as soon as possible. A large number of applications for new facilities have been filed in the past two years. These filings, once granted, will reduce the available spectrum for a number of potentially displaced stations such as yours. A displacement application trumps an application for a new facility, but only while if the pre-existing application remains pending until the Commission grants your application (in which case, the application for the new LPTV station is dismissed).

For these reasons, you should consider filing a displacement application with the FCC and seek operation on an in-core channel. The application must specify digital operation, and you will have at least 36 months to construct on the new channel. In addition, if your station meets certain rural coverage requirements, you may be eligible for reimbursement of a significant portion of your construction costs by the NTIA. More information on that program is located on the NTIA web site (

In the 2nd R&O, the Commission also indicated that all analog LPTV stations must cease operation and switch to digital operation by September 1, 2015. An analog station can either file an on-channel digital flashcut application or a digital companion channel application on a different channel. If a companion channel is desired, it should be filed as quickly as possible for the same reasons stated above. However, it is important to note that a companion-channel application does not take precedence over an application for a new LPTV facility.

Smith and Fisher can provide services such as channel searches and the preparation of the engineering portion of the FCC displacement or companion-channel application. We also can determine if your other analog in-core stations would be eligible for a digital on-channel flashcut facility and assist in the FCC filing for such a facility, if eligible.

If you have any questions regarding this issue, please don’t hesitate to call me at 703-494-2101, or send me an e-mail ( You can find out more information about our firm on our web site, Twitter and Facebook.