The Federal Communications Commission will take up the transition from analog to digital television service by low power and translator stations and how broadcasters must meet their obligation to program for children in a multichannel, digital world at its regular meeting Sept. 9.
The digital switchover of LPTV and translator stations has essentially been tabled while the commission concentrated on setting up the rules needed to make the transition of full-power broadcasters to digital service a success. However, with its agenda item on the transition to DTV by low power and translator stations, the commission will begin addressing a broadcast constituency with its own set of thorny transition issues.
Front and center is likely to be flash cutting versus allowing LPTV stations to simulcast analog and digital service on two separate channels. Both approaches present problems for the commission and LPTV broadcasters. Flash cutting – an abrupt switchover from analog to digital service on a single channel - would strand large portions of LPTV audiences who have not yet purchased DTV receivers. That’s particularly troublesome given the fact that a primary focus of many LPTV stations is serving the needs of viewers in rural areas and urban minority communities whose interests would otherwise go unserved. Granting a second channel to LPTV stations for a simulcast digital transmission could impede the commission’s efforts to free up bandwidth for other emerging spectrum users, such as wireless services.
The commission will also address what obligations digital broadcasters have to provide children’s programming. The commission is expected to address whether television stations broadcasting multiple digital channels will be obligated to provide three hours of children’s programming per day on each digital channel.
The open commission meeting begins at 9:30 at FCC headquarters in Washington, D.C. and may be viewed over the Internet.
For more information, visit http://hraunfoss.fcc.gov/edocs_public/attachmatch/DOC-251771A1.doc and www.fcc.gov/realaudio/#sept9.